In the “Subantarctic islands research strategy

New Zealand’s Subantarctic islands are among the most pristine in the world. A considerable number now have very few introduced plants or animals and any direct impact on their ecosystems may be minimal. However, the effects of human activity are far-reaching and these islands can be barometers of change. Science has a role in calibrating the barometer.

The challenge for the Department of Conservation is to know as much about the condition of the Subantarctic islands as possible without putting them at risk. Every visit by people has risks attached to it.

Legislatively, the islands are safeguarded as much as possible – they are National Nature Reserves, entry is by permit only. The high natural character of the islands has been recognised by their designation as a World Heritage Area.

The department is committed to maintaining or improving the condition of these islands by continuing with the programme of eradication of all introduced mammal species.

I ask all researchers to think carefully about the value of their research to these unique and precious islands and to be conscious at all times of the risk their very presence brings to the biota upon them.

Kevin O’Connor
Conservator, Southland Conservancy

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