Op­por­tu­nity for the North

The Northland Age - - Opinion -

Last week I made an an­nounce­ment with Con­ser­va­tion Min­is­ter Eu­ge­nie Sage that pro­vides a big op­por­tu­nity for the Far North. We an­nounced that the Provin­cial Growth Fund is go­ing to sup­port ef­forts in re­gions like the Far North to rid our forests and farm­lands of preda­tors that prey on na­tive wildlife, par­tic­u­larly nga¯ manu, our na­tive birds.

We are giv­ing $19.5 mil­lion to Preda­tor Free New Zealand 2050, the op­er­a­tional arm for the goal of reach­ing preda­tor-free sta­tus by 2050. They will use that money to fund two things.

Firstly, we are ask­ing them to sup­port large com­mu­nity-led preda­tor erad­i­ca­tion projects in ar­eas that are high pri­or­i­ties for par­tic­u­lar re­gions.

These will be man­aged by re­gional or lo­cal gov­ern­ment, iwi, hapu¯, com­mu­nity groups or part­ner­ships made up of these groups and or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Preda­tor Free New Zealand 2050 is al­ready sup­port­ing large-scale preda­tor erad­i­ca­tion projects in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try, in­clud­ing the most am­bi­tious, in Taranaki, which aims to make the whole prov­ince preda­tor-free by 2050.

The PGF money will not pay all the costs of a project, but will pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant sup­port, along with fund­ing from re­gional and lo­cal gov­ern­ment, iwi, hapu¯, com­mu­nity groups and the pri­vate sec­tor to rid the project area of preda­tors.

Preda­tor Free New Zealand will be seek­ing ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est in projects that can be sup­ported with this money. They can be con­tacted at www.preda­tor­freenz. org.

Se­condly, the money from the Provin­cial Growth Fund will be used to sup­port in­no­va­tion in preda­tor con­trol. Be­cause we have had to con­front ma­jor prob­lems with preda­tors, New Zealand is a world leader in find­ing tools that can erad­i­cate them. We want this re­search ex­tended.

My col­leagues and I in New Zealand First are ex­cited by this, be­cause new ap­proaches will al­low us to re­duce the use of 1080. Once an area has been cleared of rats, stoats and pos­sums us­ing 1080, preda­tor­free sta­tus can be main­tained with­out its on­go­ing use.

This chem­i­cal has been and will con­tinue to be a very valu­able tool to help us pro­tect our bird life, but we are also aware that some mem­bers of our com­mu­nity op­pose its use. This fund­ing boost will give even more mo­men­tum to our de­vel­op­ment of so­phis­ti­cated tools that can com­ple­ment the use of 1080 and, over time, re­duce our need to use this tool for some pur­poses.

We ex­pect the re­gions that can de­velop projects to at­tract fund­ing will see large ar­eas be­come preda­tor-free. And new meth­ods of erad­i­ca­tion and on­go­ing con­trol will ex­tend the num­ber of tools in the tool­box we use to re­gen­er­ate the na­tive plants and wildlife that are a cen­tral part of our iden­tity.

The op­por­tu­ni­ties this in­fu­sion of sup­port from the Provin­cial Growth Fund pro­vides must be taken se­ri­ously by the Far North.

"We ex­pect the re­gions that can de­velop projects to at­tract fund­ing will see large ar­eas be­come preda­tor­free."

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