An ambitious project to restore nature and sustain jobs in COVID-hit South Westland represents the biggest step yet on mainland Aotearoa towards the Predator Free 2050 goal, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says.
“Predator Free South Westland will be an exemplar for how to achieve predator-free status more widely across the country.
“The project’s goal is to remove possums, rats and stoats from a 100,000 hectare area of public and private land from the mountains to the sea, a massive leap from the original 12,000 hectare site behind Whataroa.
“The five-year $45 million project is being supported by $24 million from DOC.
“We know this region has been particularly hard hit by the economic consequences of Covid-19 and that the community is hurting.
“Jobs for Nature support will allow locals affected by the pandemic remain in South Westland while helping to carry out a ground-breaking project which will both protect and restore the area’s natural heritage, reinforcing its status as part of Te Wāhipounamu – South Westland World Heritage area.
“Eliminating predators from these diverse landscapes will require a range of approaches – from ‘boots on the ground’ labour to innovative trapping, baiting and detection techniques.
Up to 50 jobs are expected to be created over the project’s five years.Ultimately it is hoped the project will bring about an end to the ongoing widespread use of aerial 1080 to control predators within the region.
“Doing this work at a large scale is an opportunity to reposition this unique place in a post-Covid world, while at the same time delivering some very really social and economic benefits and creating a significant biodiversity legacy for this area.” Kiri Allan said.
Predator Free South Westland is being run by Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP).The project will encompass the Whataroa, Okāritō and Franz Josef townships, and is chaired by former Federated Farmers president Katie Milne.
Media Contact: Julie Jacobson 021 806085