Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage today launched the South Island’s first large-scale predator free project in Dunedin.
Government company Predator Free 2050 Ltd will contribute $4.33 million towards Predator Free Dunedin, an umbrella group of 20 community groups supported by Dunedin City Council, Otago Regional Council and the Department of Conservation. It aims to save native plants and wildlife from predators across 31,000 hectares of land.
“This is an important step towards Dunedin seeking to become the South Island’s first predator free city,” Eugenie Sage said.
“Dunedin has a well-deserved reputation as a wildlife capital with iconic species such as the hoiho/yellow-eyed penguin, New Zealand sea lions and the northern royal albatross/tōroa. The Predator Free Dunedin project will build on the successes of existing landscape-scale predator control programmes, and initiatives such as Orokonui Ecosanctuary and the Orokonui Halo project.
“The funding boost will help native wildlife flourish and more of our indigenous species return to Dunedin, including kākā, kārearea and South Island robin.
“I’m impressed by the collaboration among the 20 groups that have signed up to Predator Free Dunedin. This kind of community support will be a game-changer for our native plants and wildlife, and for everyone who enjoys hearing and seeing birds and other wildlife in their backyards,” she said.
“For the first five years Predator Free Dunedin will focus on eradicating possums from the Otago Peninsula and achieving sustained low levels of rats, stoats and other mustelids across 31,000 hectares. It will also promote widespread public engagement in predator control and backyard trapping across the city.”
The initiative has a budget of $15 million over five years, with funding support from Dunedin City Council and the Otago Regional Council and a significant investment in possum control by OSPRI.
The Predator Free Dunedin initiative is the fifth Predator Free 2050 Ltd investment in collaborative regional predator control projects that is building towards a predator free New Zealand.
Predator Free 2050 Ltd is a government-owned charitable company established to support co-funding for expanding predator control operations. It is working towards a predator free New Zealand by 2050.
It expects to contribute $23 million over the next four years to enable a total project spend of $114 million across seven projects. This will target predator eradication or reduction from around 1.7 million hectares.
An extra $81.3 million in operating funds for predator control over four years is part of a major boost for conservation funding in Budget 2018 to enable the Department of Conservation to carry out sustained predator control over 1.8 million hectares of public conservation land.