Image: Matt Hunt
Predator Free 2050 Ltd’s board has announced the appointment of Ed Chignell to the new position of Chief Executive to help drive New Zealand towards the Predator Free 2050 goal.
Chignell founded Treescape New Zealand and has spent 37 years as co-CEO. The company specialises in tree, vegetation and environmental management and is a trans-Tasman company with more than 500 employees.
Board Chair Jane Taylor says Chignell has the perfect credentials to guide Predator Free 2050 Ltd, which is responsible for managing and leveraging $6 million a year of the Crown’s investment into ridding New Zealand of possums, rats and stoats by 2050.
She notes Chignell’s proven track record as a CEO and passionate leader with strong commercial and strategic nous. “That’s what the Predator Free 2050 Ltd CEO role requires – passion, commitment, and the ability to develop powerful strategic partnerships.”
Chignell says that throughout his career he has always been keen on the environment and conservation. “I’ll be looking to bring the required skills of collaboration, coordination and development to take Predator Free 2050 Ltd towards the goal of eliminating all possums, rats and stoats in our country.”
Noting that there are multiple agencies and community organisations involved in predator eradication, Chignell adds that Predator Free 2050 Ltd will work to draw these stakeholders together. His focus in the first six months is to meet with all key players, stakeholders and organisations currently doing work and research in this field, while also meeting with philanthropic companies committed to New Zealand’s biodiversity.
However, he also stresses the necessity of every Kiwi getting on board with the programme.
“An estimated 25 million eggs or chicks of native birds are killed by introduced predators every year. That’s a huge number and it is the path to extinction for many of our endemic bird species. In turn, those species are indicative of New Zealand’s total biodiversity; if they are under threat, it means all our fauna and flora is under threat. This makes the task ahead a crucial one for all New Zealanders.”
Chair Taylor says Predator Free 2050 Ltd’s projects are crucial to the delivery of much of the Predator Free 2050 programme.
“Although the Board first met in January, we’ve already made major headway with our busy work programme, so Ed has a lot to get his teeth into.
“We now have a draft science strategy to develop the breakthrough technology needed to achieve a predator-free New Zealand, which we plan to make public later this year.
“We’re also developing a strategy for managing additional Crown funding for large-scale collaborative predator control projects and expect to announce our plans for identifying, selecting and funding suitable projects as the year progresses.”
Chignell says that while the task ahead is a daunting one, he believes it can be achieved. “When Edmund Hillary first took on Everest, that was an impossible ask. But it proved to be achievable and I believe our goal is similarly possible. But it will depend on everyone pulling in the same direction.”
Chignell begins his new role in August 2017.