Budget boosts DOC predator control

A pre-budget announcement of a significant funding boost for predator control will help towards the ambitious goal of making New Zealand ‘predator free’ by 2050.

In July 2016: Government sets target to make New Zealand ‘predator-free’ by 2050

The Government wants to make New Zealand predator-free by 2050, formally adopting a target to eradicate all pests that threaten New Zealand’s native birds.

Prime Minister John Key announced the goal, alongside Conservation Minister Maggie Barry, as well as a $28 million funding injection into a joint venture company to kickstart the campaign.

“Rats, possums and stoats kill 25 million of our native birds every year, and prey on other native species such as lizards and, along with the rest of our environment, we must do more to protect them,” Key said.

By 2025, the Government has set four interim goals, which include:

• Having 1 million hectares of land where pests are suppressed or removed;
• The development of a scientific breakthrough, capable of removing entirely one small mammalian predator;
• To be able demonstrate that areas of 20,000 hectares can be predator free without the use of fences like the one at at Wellington’s Zealandia sanctuary;
• And the complete removal of all introduced predators from offshore island nature reserves.

“This is the most ambitious conservation project attempted anywhere in the world, but we believe if we all work together as a country we can achieve it.”

See department of Conversation Predator Free 2050

Predator Free 2050 (PF2050) brings together central and local government, iwi, philanthropists, non-government organisations, businesses, science and research organisations, communities, land owners and individuals like you.

Reminds me I have to deal to some nuisance possums. They are lot better around here after a TBFree eradication programme over the last year.

From the Labour-Green confidence & supply agreement:

6. Safeguard our indigenous biodiversity by reducing the extinction risk for 3,000 threatened
plant and wildlife species, significantly increasing conservation funding, increasing predator
control and protecting their habitats.

a. Budget provision will be made for significantly increasing the Department of
Conservation’s funding.

From the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement:

  • Significantly increase funding for the Department of Conservation.

The Government is following through on this:


Backing Nature – funding a future for native species

Possums, rats and stoats are the big losers in Budget 2018 and our forests, birds and other wildlife the winners, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced today.

“We need to invest in comprehensive predator control in order to save special wildlife like kiwi. We have a biodiversity crisis, where 82 per cent of native birds are threatened with or at risk of extinction,” says Eugenie Sage.

An extra $81.3 million in operating funds for predator control over four years is part of a major boost in conservation funding in Budget 2018. This will enable the Department of Conservation (DOC) to undertake sustained predator control over more than 1.8 million hectares – the largest area ever covered, and about the size of Northland and Auckland combined.

DOC’s previous funding enabled it to achieve possum control across 1 million hectares. The additional funding in Budget 2018 enables the greatest threats to biodiversity – rats, stoats and possums – to be continually controlled over a larger area in an integrated way.

“For the first time, predator control funding will be locked in. Budget 2018 means DOC won’t have to divert funding from other priorities or scramble to get one-off allocations from Government in order to do this essential work,” says Eugenie Sage.

“Both the Coalition Agreement and the Confidence and Supply Agreement recognise the need to increase conservation funding. Budget 2018 delivers on those commitments.

“After years of neglect and piecemeal funding, Budget 2018 is backing nature. DOC can now plan ahead with secure funding to target the predators that are devastating New Zealand’s unique species.”

Eugenie Sage made the announcement at Otari-Wilton’s Bush in Wellington, an example of thriving native forest that we will have more of as a result of this initiative.

“DOC’s pest control improves forest health and the breeding success of threatened species like kākā, kea, rock wren, whio/blue duck and bats,” says Eugenie Sage.

“When 4,000 of our native plants and animals are threatened or at risk of extinction, every single conservation dollar counts. This injection of $81.3 million is only the start of this Government’s investment in nature,” Eugenie Sage said.

Awaroa Beach – public, not political

Seven hectares of land, including a beach and bush, at Awaroa Inlet at the top of the South Island is for sale for $2 million.

AwaroaInlet

A Givealittle campaign has so far raised $1.2 million to by this with the intention of giving the land to the Able Tasman National Park.

Givealittle: Pristine beach in the heart of the Abel Tasman

There is a pristine piece of beach and bush in the heart of the Abel Tasman up for private sale. Together we can buy it and gift it to NZ.

Main image

We rang DOC and they said they had been interested in it, but market price was out of their ballpark. We will gift it to DOC, or a suitable trust. The bottom line for this project is that this beautiful piece of NZ is off the market permanently for all to enjoy.

Not really the time for political aspects of this or relying on ‘the government’. Even our NGO’s can’t mobilise in this timeframe. It might simply be vote with your feet before the opportunity passes.

NZ Herald reports:

Last week, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry confirmed that the beach would be added to the Abel Tasman National Park if the online campaign to buy the land succeeded.

Today, Ms Barry said she had instructed conservation officials to speak to the organisers of the campaign about the legal requirements for making the beach part of the national park.

If the target were reached, free access would be secured for the public in perpetuity.

The Department of Conservation has previously said that it is not interested in buying the spot because it is not considered a precious ecological site, but it would be open to receiving the land as a gift.

A spokesman said the department could not justify spending $2 million on 800m of beach and a section of kanuka scrub.

Sounds good. DOC can’t justify buying the land so a public campaign is raising money to buy it and gift it to New Zealand and New Zealanders. They are well on their way to raising the money.

So why the hell has Andrew Little got involved?

Taxpayer money should help buy Awaroa beach: Labour

Today, Labour leader Andrew Little said the Government should make it a Waitangi weekend to remember by agreeing to meet the remaining cost of buying the beach.

“The Prime Minister should follow the lead of thousands of Kiwis who have already stumped up half the purchase price because they see this beach as more than just any old piece of land,” Mr Little said.

“More than 11,000 people have chipped in to the campaign because they care and they see access to as much of our coastline as possible as a birthright.”

A remote beach has suddenly become popular. People are doing what they can to gift to to the public, and that is a popular campaign.

There’s no need for politicians to get involved.

This seems to be a lame attempt by Little to make himself popular by jumping on a popular cause. Does he see this as a prudent use of public money? Or is he trying to make the Government look mean if they don’t pony up with the cash.

Well done Duane Major for your initiative and a successful campaign. There’s no need for politicians to try and pinch your popularity.

 

Dunedin’s bountiful walking tracks

One of the things I really like about Dunedin is the number and variety of walking tracks. Apart from a dozen beaches that all have good walking options there are flat tracks, bush tracks and hill and mountain tracks.

I’ve walked many of them. There’s one for most occasions, as long as you’re dressed for it and have an appropriate level of fitness.

And while you often encounter other walkers you also often get to walk in relative solitude.

Dunedin City Council and the department of Conservation have launched a new brochure on Dunedin walks.

Councillor Jinty MacTavish has posted on Facebook:

This week the Dunedin City Council in conjunction with the Department of Conservation, launched the first print run of a rad new Dunedin walks brochure. There’s an online version, too, with details of popular walks in one handy location (see link below). It’s not perfect – there are parts of our beautiful city that this first edition doesn’t cover, and there may be favourite walks in Central Dunedin that also aren’t included. But it’s a really exciting first step, and staff would love to hear feedback from you all so they can make the next print version (in a couple of months time) even better…email for feedback is andrew.lonie@dcc.govt.nz.

The DCC website lists walk category links.

The Walking tracks page also has links to online brochures. It’s worth repeating here:

Related information

Some of Dunedin’s beaches and also on Virtual Tourist.

‘More 1080’ madness

It seems madness promoting more use of the poison 1080. It serves an important purpose but should be replaced as soon as possible.

The Commissioner for the Environment has called for more use of 1080, claiming it is ‘safe’. One News reports in Call for more 1080 ‘absolutely unbelievable’:

Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright yesterday slammed the current 1080 scheme as “inadequate”, saying the chemical is safe, effective and that alternative methods are not as good.

Every year, 3500 tonnes of 1080 poison is distributed across the country to kill pests like possums, stoats and rats.

It is widely acknowledged that 1080 is near essential in controlling pests, but it is a necessary evil that should be reduced as much and as quickly as possible.

Not surprisingly there has been opposition to the call for more 1080 use.

Kate Winters from the protest group 1080 National Network told TV ONE’s Breakfast that increasing the use of the poison to control pests is a step in the wrong direction.

“I find it absolutely unbelievable that she (the commissioner) is advocating more use of 1080 in a country that claims itself to be clean and green,” Ms Winters said.

“We should really be looking at banning it, and reducing the use until it is eventually banned, hopefully in 2020.”

Ms Winters does not deny that 1080 is effective but says a lack of knowledge makes it dangerous.

“We know it’s a killer, what we don’t know is what it does and what low doses do to our native species, to our environment and humans.”

United Future leader Peter Dunne sides with this view and with the Department of Conservation.

Mr Dunne says he supports DOC’s efforts to find alternatives to 1080.“I think the Parliamentary Commissioner is being short sighted.

“Very few people argue that 1080 is the ideal solution, and there have been constant calls over the years for more research to be done into viable alternatives.

“DOC has under strong criticism from many recreational groups for what was seen as too rigid an approach to 1080 – now when it is doing much more at looking at viable alternatives, it gets criticised by the Parliamentary Commissioner for not being rigid enough!

“In my view, DOC has got the balance about right.

“Of course, we must protect the conservation estate in particular from unwelcome predators – no-one seriously questions that – but as New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world to still use 1080, we must also be constantly looking at alternatives,” he says.

Mr Dunne says the Parliamentary Commissioner’s 2001 and 2013 reports show a “blinkered” approach which “detracts from the impartiality of her office.”

Mr Dunne is calling on the Parliamentary Commissioner to work with DOC on a balanced approach to the use of 1080 and alternatives, rather than to keep attacking its efforts.

United Future had supported groups wanting to ban 1080 leading up to the last election, but now accept that 1080 needs to be phased out while alternatives are phased in.

Putting more effort into finding alternatives to 1080 should be a high priority. New Zealand uses about 80% of the world supply of the poison.