South Island robin
Image: Sabine Bernert ©

Introduction

The Government is investing more than $81.2 million over the next four years in predator control, which will result in the largest area ever protected against predators on an ongoing basis.

Date:  12 May 2018

This funding will enable control of introduced predators in ecosystems with high value biodiversity, protecting these ecosystems from harm and contributing to improving the status of some threatened species.

The new money means that the Department of Conservation (DOC) will now have ongoing funding for controlling and eradicating predators (possums, stoats and rats) and help prevent local extinction of threatened species populations, such as kōkako, mohua, whio, long tailed bats and kiwi.

The control will be targeted to protect priority ecosystems - 1000 sites identified as the best remaining examples of each of the more than 100 unique New Zealand priority ecosystems.

These identified sites reflect the unique assemblages of native plants and animals that characterise all the different natural environments across the country including the best remaining examples of native forest types.

The new money will allow predator control on an extra 600,000 ha of public conservation land each year, compared with the approximately 200,000 ha per year that DOC currently has ongoing funding for.  It will also provide greater efficiencies through multi-year planning and contracting with suppliers.

Undertaking predator control on 800,000 ha of land each year will result in 1.85 million ha of land where predators are suppressed on an ongoing basis. This will deliver major biodiversity benefits across this area, which is larger than Auckland and Northland combined.

The funding will enable DOC to deal with predator plagues that occur in years when abundant fruit from native trees (‘mast years’) provides a feast for predators. In the past DOC had to repeatedly seek one-off funding for such control.

DOC’s success in recent years with biodiversity recovery can be seen in the results from pest control programmes like the Battle for our Birds, which uses aerial and ground control techniques.

In the North Island increased aerial predator control is boosting kiwi and whio productivity in the Tongariro Forest. In the South Island, monitoring of kea in Kahurangi National Park showed 50 percent of monitored nests produced chicks following aerial predator control compared to only 2 percent of nests where no control took place.

The new money will also be applied to research and innovation to develop new tools and techniques for predator control and eradication. This will include new traps and toxins, and trialling methods to prevent predator movement across landscapes such as farmland.

The new research will also complement more fundamental research, refining current methods which is supported through existing funding.

Backing nature in the country’s unique ecosystems will make a significant contribution towards Predator Free 2050 – an ambitious goal to rid New Zealand of three of its worst predators – possums, rats and stoats – by 2050. 

Initiative

2018/19
($m)

2019/20
($m)

2020/21
($m)

2021/22
($m)

4-yr total
($m)

Enhancing biodiversity by controlling and eradicating predators

4.40

30.40

23.40

23.08

 81.28

Minister of Conservation's media release 12 May 2018

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