Could New Zealand be predator-free by 2050?
New Zealand has set itself an incredible goal – to be free of predators to our native flora and fauna within the next 34 years.
So can we do it? If so, how can we make it happen?
Is being predator-free even possible?
For many countries, the idea of ridding their lands of predators that prey on weaker, endangered species is more of a dream than a reality.
In New Zealand, it’s currently a dream that may well become reality.
The difference is in our country’s size, isolation, and commitment from both government bodies and everyday New Zealanders who are prepared to get out there and work to make it happen.
Firstly, as the Department of Conservation points out, we’re attempting this goal with a great track record in predator eradication and control. We’ve already seen huge successes with places such as the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society Inc (TOSSI), which we visit during our Tawharanui day and night tours. Here, behind the fence, there’s not a predator to be found, and therefore our native species have been allowed to thrive.
If New Zealand can imitate those results on a country-wide scale, we’ll soon see a predator-free Aotearoa.
The goal itself
We’re looking to say goodbye to rats, stoats and possums by the year 2050.
These culprits are the worst offenders for our flora and fauna – often either eating and destroying eggs of our precious birdlife, or devouring much-needed food sources for other animals.
As a result, New Zealand is looking forward to stronger links with our environment, a better chance for our native species to survive and thrive (such as the national icon, the kiwi), and for better tourism opportunities that can boost the economy.
How we will achieve a predator-free status
New Zealand will achieve its goal through efforts from all sides.
The government is committing $28 million over four years, and a further $7 million every year after that. Plus, more than $70 million has already been spent on the cause by councils, businesses, community groups and more.
Countless efforts are being made around the country from everyday communities. For example, Project Janszoon in the Abel Tasman National Park is currently working on a large-scale predator control effort.
New techniques and better technologies are constantly being put into use. The application of 1080 is one example, where GPS systems are now in play to increase its efficiency. Additionally, self-resetting traps and toxins that just work on predators are in the works.
Volunteers and ordinary New Zealanders are also getting involved. Whether it’s through local community efforts or simply working on habitat protection in their own backyards, every little bit helps.
So far, more than 100 of the country’s islands have been declared predator-free. It’s a fantastic and optimistic start to meeting New Zealand’s audacious and exciting goal by 2050.
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist