Giant leap to pest-free NZ is attainable – Dr James Russell

Reaching a predator-free goal by 2050 is attainable, but will require a huge cultural shift, writes conservation biologist Dr James Russell in the New Zealand Herald:

james russellAn excerpt (read in full):

New Zealand is the world leader in killing invasive predators. We’re so good at it, other countries around the world seek our help and advice for their own eradication projects. But our focus, replicated by many other countries, is generally on offshore islands such as Tiritiri Matangi where mammalian predators would otherwise have eaten island-dwelling native species to extinction.

We have eradicated predators and herbivores from more than 100 offshore islands but in 50 years our pest-free island area has only increased from 0.5 per cent to 10 per cent. While offshore and back-country conservation makes a lot of sense when money and resources are limited, do we really want our precious taonga native species tucked away in remote places where most New Zealanders rarely get to see them?

The Government has said no, but by any standard scaling up our efforts by the order of magnitude required to achieve a pest-free New Zealand by 2050 is a giant leap from where we are now.

Can we do it? I believe we can and I think we must.

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