To: Hon Eugenie Sage, Minister of Conservation
Date: 6 May 2020
At the Authority’s April 2020 meeting, you spoke of the potential employment opportunities in nature-based jobs, specifically in the context of pest control work. You requested that Authority members provide advice on the criteria that should be considered in identifying priority areas to focus Predator Free efforts.
The Authority have identified the need to explore priority areas through both environmental and human-centred criterion. In an environmental context, the Authority recommends that consideration be given to large areas where predator free efforts are feasible, defensible, and would result in significant, sustainable biodiversity benefits. Examples of this are:
- With the proposed Maukahuka eradication now put on hold, more focus could be put towards Predator Free Rakiura, and the surrounding islands. 36 of these islands are in the ownership of Ngāi Tahu whanui Rakiura Māori, and already 70% are on track to be pest free. These islands are the last safe holds for critically endangered Taonga species and could provide a home to the many more species that have improved populations but are pressured for habitat. Rakiura would be a stepping stone for Predator Free 2050.
- Rekohu Chatham Islands, similar in circumstance to Rakiura, has pest issues endangering wildlife; feral cats, possums, and rats affect breeding seabird populations, and the islands flora and fauna.
- Islands, peninsulas and other defensible areas on the mainland, where re-invasion can be prevented/managed could be considered, e.g. the Coromandel, and Banks Peninsula. Perhaps, the whole of Northland could be made ‘possum free’, with the Auckland isthmus being the ‘fence’ to the south. Te Hiku in the far north are prioritising this work and have a strategy ‘Te Hau Mihi’ around improving biodiversity, given they have boundaries on three sides (i.e. the moana) it will be easier for them to achieve than others that are in the middle of the island.
In addition, regions that face the greatest threats to threatened species, and that provide corridor opportunities for predator free areas, should be considered.
The post COVID-19 context also requires a human-centred approach, where a focus on maximising employment opportunity and wellbeing must be considered. The Authority recommends further priority should be given to inhabited, defensible areas where significant numbers of people could be motivated to participate in pest control. Additionally, there is opportunity for partnership development, achieved through a focus on iwi priority areas, and engagement with community and organisational hubs.
This is an opportunity to strive with vigour and purpose towards our Predator Free 2050
goal, and one that must not be missed. A unique opportunity to promote conservation within
the economic conversation is upon us.
E noho ora mai
Edward Ellison ONZM