The ambitious project aligns with the recently announced Government mission to make the whole of New Zealand predator free by 2050. Without introduced predators’, birds, lizards, geckos and other native fauna will be able to grow and thrive in Wellington, bringing significant environmental, social and economic benefits.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said Wellington was proud to be leading the way to a predator-free New Zealand.
“Wellington’s existing natural capital makes a predator-free city possible. We have a strong foundation with over 120 volunteer restoration projects working in our network of reserves along with significant Council investment. This next step will enable the project partners to work with local communities to build the momentum that will be critical in sustaining the project over the long term.”
“We will also be seeking central government investment to ensure eradication is successful”, Mayor Wade-Brown said.
The initiative follows on from the success of neighbourhood trapping communities already established in Wellington – in particular Crofton Downs Predator Free Community spearheaded by local resident Kelvin Hastie.
NEXT Foundation chairman Chris Liddell also announced today it has engaged Kelvin as the NEXT Predator Free Community Champion to work with the Predator Free Wellington partners on this exciting mission. Kelvin will also ultimately support other communities in the wider vision of making New Zealand predator free by 2050.
“We are delighted to have Kelvin on board and to support Wellington in this bold vision,” said Liddell. “We are looking forward to Wellington being famous for not only the Beehive – but birdsong”.
Councillor Chris Laidlaw, GWRC Chair said, “We’re excited by the prospect of harnessing our collective skills and resources to bring the birds back to Wellington and restore the region’s biodiversity. Together we can more effectively achieve the Predator Free goal, working community by community, to provide a lasting benefit for future generations.”
Wellington City Council, GWRC and NEXT Foundation will jointly fund a Project Director to get the project underway. Initially the focus will be on developing a plan to eradicate rats and stoats from the Miramar Peninsula along with a strategy for extending this throughout Wellington City. Management of cats and dogs is not included in the scope of the proposed project but the need for Wellington residents to be responsible pet owners is a matter of ongoing interest to the Councils. Engaging with the community will form a large part of the project and lessons learnt in Crofton Downs and other areas will inform the project design and implementation. Expert advice will guide the development of the plan and strategy.
Miramar Peninsula is geographically well positioned to attempt a rat and stoat eradication. Possums were declared eradicated from Miramar Peninsula in 2006 by GWRC with support from WCC and the area has not been re-infested. Wellington City Council has already undertaken management of introduced predators of native animals across all its reserves, in partnership with GRWC, and much work is done voluntarily by community groups.
GWRC currently undertakes possum and predator control in most of rural Wellington and within identified Key Native Ecosystems.