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Jobs For Nature Funding To Support Pest Eradication Projects On Farewell Spit/Wharariki, Kawau Island And Kaipara

More than $6 million in Jobs for Nature funding is being made available to support three iwi-, community- and council-led projects targeting the eradication of rats, stoats and possums as part of the Predator Free New Zealand 2050 mission, Predator Free 2050 Ltd announced today.

The three projects in the Kaipara Harbour peninsulas, Farewell Spit/Wharariki and Kawau Island are currently in the planning stages, with any fieldwork starting mid-2022 and expected to be completed in 2026.

"These are three particularly promising landscape-level projects and we hope this anchor funding provides the confidence for other partners to invest and get involved. Should all go ahead as planned, they are forecast to create more than 100 jobs," said David Macleod, Acting Chair, Predator Free 2050 Ltd (PF2050 Ltd).

"The support we already have from iwi and hapū, the community and councils for these projects is awesome. PF2050 is a really ambitious goal and that sort of local leadership will be key to our eventual success."

The $4.85m Kawau Island project will be led by Auckland Council, working with Ngāti Manuhiri, the Pohutukawa Trust, the Department of Conservation and other partners. PF2050 Ltd will fund $1.3m with Auckland Council, the Department of Conservation and other partners funding the rest. While PF2050 will work to eradicate rats, stoats and possums, the Council will also target wallabies, first introduced to the island by Governor Grey. The first stage of the project is forecast to create 23 jobs.

Kawau is the 49th of 50 Hauraki Gulf islands subject to eradication efforts, with more than half now free of invasive mammals.

The Kaipara project will be led by a group of local iwi and hapū. The forecast project budget for the key peninsulas is $30m and PF2050 Ltd will anchor the project with an initial $2m. Alongside PF2050’s efforts targeting rats, possums and stoats, local iwi and hapū have acknowledged the damage caused by feral pigs in the catchment, and requested they be eliminated too.

The Kaipara project would initially focus on 105,000 hectares around the peninsula and harbour area, expanding to 640,000 hectares as technology being developed to support the PF2050 goal allows. That area extends south of Whangarei to Helensville and much of the west coast in between. The initial phase of the project could create up to 36 full-time jobs.

The Farewell Spit/Wharariki project, to be community-led by the Tasman Environmental Trust and HealthPost Nature Trust, already has significant community support with habitat restoration and predator control work previously carried out.

Farewell Spit is a unique and internationally-recognised environmentally significant area for migratory birds and its biodiversity value, and a culturally significant area for local iwi. It is also a defendable geography and serves as an anchor for that part of the South Island. Over time, other work will move towards the Abel Tasman National Park and south to Kahurangi and the West Coast.

PF2050 Ltd has committed to fund $3m of the $9m cost, with the remaining $6m to be raised by other partners. Should it progress, the project is forecast to create up to 50 jobs.

"These are big, novel projects that have the benefit of taking on the lessons of the work already being done. We know a lot more about what eradication methods work and what don’t in different environments than we did even five years ago," David Macleod said.

"PF2050 projects are strongly connected to science-led research and development efforts to provide the tools needed to succeed at a landscape scale. Ultimately, over time these and other landscape-scale projects are going to connect, creating large predator free areas, resulting in significant benefits for our natural environment and native species."

Notes for reporters:

Farewell Spit - Wharariki

Farewell Spit/Wharariki is a unique natural feature and is internationally recognised under the Ramsar Convention. It is an important ecosystem for shorebirds including red knot, bar-tailed godwit, variable oystercatcher, pied oystercatcher, and banded dotterel. A 2013 survey found that Farewell Spit regularly supports 20,000 or more waterbirds. The site is the highest ranked ecosystem in the Tasman District (2019 survey). Resident and migratory species are at risk of predation. An eradication project has strong merit, but is ambitious.

This project builds on, and leverages, the existing significant conservation projects underway at the base of the Spit to enhance and protect significant habitat areas for burrowing seabirds and wetland species. Given the unique nature of the site, learnings from this project will inform other dune and coastal ecosystem sites.

Kaipara

The project will eradicate possums, rats and mustelids and will also target feral pigs. The project will take a staged approach for the 640,000 hectare catchment by initially completing detailed design, iwi and hapū partnership, community and landowner engagement, and confidence of co-funding from the community and others.

Stage 1 will focus on the key peninsulas (105,000 ha) and the remainder of the catchment (535,000ha) will follow in other stages.

The Project was initiated by the Integrated Kaipara Harbour Management Group (IKHMG) in partnership with Ngā Maunga Whakahii, Te Uri o Hau, Te Roroa, Landcare and community groups, Auckland Council, Northland Regional Council and the Department of Conservation.

The project will be implemented by Te Uri o Hau Settlement Trust through their environmental arm Environs Holdings Ltd and is a collaborative, multi-stakeholder partnership for the purpose of achieving a ‘healthy and productive Kaipara Harbour’.

The Kaipara Moana is the largest estuarine water body in New Zealand; it is of global ecological and biological significance and profound importance to Māori and recreational users. The catchment and unique estuarine system spans the Auckland and Northland regions, covering 640,000 hectares. The Kaipara is a migratory bird habitat of international significance with rare species using the harbour for feeding in summer before returning to the northern hemisphere to breed, such as the bar-tailed godwit. Terrestrial biodiversity includes fairy tern, banded rail, fernbird and kiwi, and the wetland areas provide feeding and roosting grounds for migratory waders such as godwits. The coastal dunes and dune lakes along the western coast provide habitat for banded rail, dotterel and other species.

The Kaipara project has interdependencies with the $200m Kaipara remediation project - an initiative involving iwi, hapū, central and local government, landowners and the wider community to restore the whole catchment. Those will provide significant benefits to the project.

Kawau Island

The Auckland Council-led project will work with Ngāti Manuhiri, the Pohutukawa Trust and the Department of Conservation and other partners from where the balance of funding will come, to eradicate possums, rats and mustelids. Auckland Council will also concurrently eradicate wallabies, consistent with the Auckland Regional Pest Management Plan. 10% of the island is administered by the Department of Conservation.

Kawau is one of the last remaining islands in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park with predators. The island’s fauna includes kiwi (North Island brown), weka, little blue penguin, pateke, dotterel, kaka, robin, bellbird, whitehead, grey faced petrel. The island is dominated by indigenous vegetation, but forest quality and bird abundance has been eroding due to predation - this eradication project is a crucial trigger to reverse the decline.

 

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