In late July 2016 the National government announced a bold plan to make New Zealand predator free by the year 2050. The argument for doing this is clear: introduced pests continue to threaten many taxa in New Zealand, they cost our Zealand economy approximately $3.3 billion each year, and up to $80 million each year is spent controlling them. National is investing $28 million over a four year period to ensure this goal is realised; although, it is hoping to attract the support of the private sector and communities in to help them.
In the near future, an entity called ‘Predator Free New Zealand Ltd’ will be established to oversee the development of a strategic plan to realise this ambitious goal. By 2025 it is hoped that New Zealand will have 1 million hectares of land where introduced pests are removed, show that large areas (more than 20,000 ha) can be pest free without the use of predator-proof fences, and new technology is developed to increase the efficacy of pest control. Accordingly, Predator Free New Zealand Ltd will be looking to invest in key projects across the country.
This is where the Bream Head Conservation Trust enters the picture as we have been extremely proactive in terms of realising the aims of the predator free New Zealand concept. In addition to the extensive pest control work that have been done over the last 14 years, we also recognise that advances in technology are critical to maintain pests at very low numbers and reduce the costs of doing this. Therefore, the Bream Head Conservation Trust submitted a significant bid to the Ministry for the Environment, and if successful, the reserve will be used as a ‘living laboratory’ for the development of new technology.
Bream Head is an ideal place for such a project, as the infrastructure is already in place, we have a proven track record of good conservation management, and we have a driven and passionate community who support the project. We have also embraced new technology, as trials with self-setting traps and automated pest tracking devices are underway or planned.
It is an interesting time for conservation management in New Zealand. The Bream Head Conservation Trust fully support the aspiration goals of realising a predator free New Zealand and we are looking forward to hearing more about how this concept develops.