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Restoration project for Rangitoto and Motutapu

Huge restoration project for Rangitoto and Motutapu

Rangitoto and Motutapu islands in the Hauraki Gulf are to be restored to their natural state in an unprecedented pest eradication project, Prime Minister Helen Clark and Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced today.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has allocated $595,000 over three years for the first stages of the project, which could take up to six years to complete.

The new initiative follows confirmation that DOC has successfully eradicated the last introduced pest on another Hauraki Gulf island, Little Barrier (Hauturu), after an intensive two-year operation.

"The removal of kiore from Little Barrier is a terrific success for DOC, and leads on to even more ambitious island eradication projects," Helen Clark said.

"Hauturu was first protected in 1895, but it has taken until now to develop the expertise and technology to restore the island to the point where tuatara, giant weta, geckos, skinks and Cook's petrel can begin to thrive.

"The Labour-led government wants Rangitoto and Motutapu to be pest-free too. At 3800 hectares in total, they have the potential to provide the largest combined animal pest-free habitat in the Hauraki Gulf," Helen Clark said.

Chris Carter said Rangitoto already contained the largest pohutakawa forest in the world, which was flourishing since the removal of possums and wallabies in the 1990s. But the full regeneration of the islands was constrained by seven remaining animal pests.

"There are two rat species, mice, stoats, cats, hedgehogs and rabbits on the islands. Removing them all could be one of the most challenging and complex eradication projects ever attempted by DOC," Chris Carter said.

"Because of the complexity, the project will entail detailed feasibility investigations over the next two years, with operational planning commencing in 2008. DOC will be talking closely with all groups with an interest in the island, including iwi, throughout this work."


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