Predator Free Awarua project put on hold in Southland

September 29, 2022 9:47 am

Predator Free 2050 Limited and Predator Free Southland have confirmed that the Predator Free Awarua project will be put on hold due to a shortfall in the funding needed to see the project through to completion.

The Awarua project aimed to eradicate possums and suppress mustelids (weasels, ferrets, stoats) and rats in areas of high biodiversity at the very bottom of the South Island, and prevent more of these predators from getting to Rakiura (Stewart Island).

While the Environment Southland-hosted project had completed its planning phase and gained significant community support, including volunteered labour and other resources, it had only been able to line up roughly half of the funding needed.

PF 2050 Limited Chief Executive Rob Forlong said it was disappointing for both the Predator Free 2050 mission and the Southland community to put the Awarua project on hold for now.

“Unfortunately securing financial partners is tough in the current economic environment and without certainty on the funding required to see it through, the project risked losing any gains it would make if it was to start. The best option is to hit pause for the time being,” Mr Forlong said.

“This project remains an important piece in the Predator Free mission puzzle and with an operational plan already developed and ready to go it is in a strong position to be revived in the future. The Jobs for Nature funding we had earmarked for this project will now be redirected to other priorities.”

Predator Free Southland spokesperson Dave Burgess says the partners remain committed to the Predator Free concept and have plans to recruit a coordinator to continue work with PF 2050, community groups and stakeholders to investigate ways to successfully implement Predator Free Southland.

“They will also work in closely with the proposed PF Rakiura project to collaboratively find ways to ensure that both projects align and have increased benefits through predator control on both sides of Foveaux Strait.”

About Predator Free Awarua

Predator Free Awarua, the first phase of Predator Free Southland, was initially launched in December 2020 through a total investment of $120,000 from Predator Free 2050 Limited to establish a project team and develop an operational plan. The project was to be hosted by Environment Southland in partnership with Ngāi Tahu, Department of Conservation, Gore District Council, Invercargill City Council, Southland District Council and community groups including Bluff Hill Motupōhue Environment Trust and Omaui Landcare Trust.

The plan would support the existing intensive rat trapping within residential backyards and at biodiversity hotspots lead by the Bluff and Omaui communities and an expanding control network for possums and mustelids across the Southland landscape.

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