Predator Free Whangārei receives $6M from Predator Free 2050 Limited
July 10, 2020 9:31 am
Predator control efforts in Whangārei are set to scale up over the next five years following a $6 million funding announcement from Predator Free 2050 Limited and the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).
The announcement was made today by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones.
Predator Free Whangārei is a large-scale community-led project that will build on many years of dedicated and successful community predator control in the Whangārei area.
Northland Regional Council Chair Penny Smart says the project is a critical step towards the regional vision for a predator free Taitokerau. She says together with community conservation groups, local iwi and hapū, landowners and agency partners, Northland Regional Council is supporting Northlanders’ ambitions to eradicate predators from the region.
“Predator Free Whangārei will genuinely bolster the community’s existing predator control work by providing additional resources, new ways of thinking and innovative approaches to predator control that ultimately support the need for Whangārei residents, including landowners and iwi and hapū, to reclaim their relationship with our environment. This knowledge can then be shared and applied across Northland.”
As well as helping the native environment to thrive, Chair Smart says project partners are looking forward to the positive impact Predator Free Whangārei will have on Northland communities through the creation of employment and education opportunities, especially in the wake of Covid-19.
In addition to the $6M from Predator Free 2050 Limited and the Provincial Growth Fund, the project has been made possible by significant in-kind contributions from community conservation groups, iwi/hapū, Northland Regional Council, Whangārei District Council, Kiwi Coast and Department of Conservation. The five-year project has a total budget of just over $27M.
Predator Free Whangārei was chosen from 18 expressions of interest in funding from provincial areas around the country last year, enabled through a $19.5M commitment from the Provincial Growth Fund.
“The investment builds on Northland Regional Council’s leadership in biosecurity and the efforts of kaitiaki, farmers and landcare and community groups,” says Predator Free 2050 Limited Chief Executive Ed Chignell. “This is an important path finder project to tackle predators at scale and release the potential for native biodiversity recovery.”
The project has bold objectives to eradicate possums from the Whangārei Heads area and significantly reduce predator numbers – namely possums, mustelids and rats – in key areas across a 60,000ha geographic area, including urban Whangārei.
Project partner Kiwi Coast has been supporting community-led predator control since 2013, with the goal of creating New Zealand’s first kiwi corridor along 200km of Northland coastline.
Kiwi Coast Coordinator Ngaire Sullivan says Predator Free Whangārei provides an amazing opportunity to secure the first area of Northland where our native forests, wildlife and special places can thrive once more in the absence of the constant and devastating effects of predators.
“Community-led projects across Whangārei are already achieving amazing results. Kiwi populations are increasing and forests are being brought back from the brink thanks to their endless hard work and dedication over the last two decades. Stoats predate 95% of kiwi chicks before their first birthday in unmanaged areas. Imagine what 60,000ha of boosted predator control is going to mean for taonga species like kiwi! We’re looking forward to getting stuck in to help make the most of this opportunity, embrace new ways of working and share lessons learnt across Taitokerau.”
Whangārei District Council is a project partner and Mayor Sheryl Mai is looking forward to the positive impact Predator Free Whangārei will have on biodiversity in the reserves in our district.
“This will boost the efforts of the many conservation volunteers who have worked tirelessly over many years. We have so many stunning green spaces across our district that provide a real drawcard for both residents and visitors, and it will be wonderful to experience the ongoing transformation as we see our natural environment truly thriving.”
Department of Conservation’s Northern North Island Operations Director Sue Reed-Thomas says being predator free on mainland Aotearoa is a long held dream that can be hard for people to imagine.
“We’ve seen what’s possible in areas like Whangārei Heads where years of dedication and hard work has helped to bring back precious native taonga and get papatuanuku thriving, with kiwi now flourishing in coastal communities and rare species such as toutouwai (North Island robins) successfully being reintroduced to Bream Head Scenic Reserve. This project is a fantastic opportunity to share the vision of a predator free Whangārei, Northland and Aotearoa with our communities.”
Photo: Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage (centre right) together with representatives from some of the partner organisations for the Predator Free Whangārei project. From left, Ripley Dean (Northland Regional Council), Ed Chignell (Predator Free 2050 Ltd), Kane McElrea (Northland Regional Council), Hon Eugenie Sage, Ngaire Sullivan (Kiwi Coast), Nigel Miller (Department of Conservation).