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National will boost Predator Free 2050 with $69.2 million of new funding over the next four years to ramp up the ambitious, world-leading pest eradication programme.

“We have been absolutely thrilled with the enthusiasm of communities up and down the country about Predator Free since it was launched one year ago,” Conservation Spokeswoman Maggie Barry says.

“National in Government will match the commitment of our volunteers, councils and philanthropists and turn this project into something that will achieve what Sir Paul Callaghan called “New Zealand’s moonshot”.”

The Predator-Free programme has the ambitious goal of protecting New Zealand’s unique plants and animals by eradicating rats, stoats, and possums from New Zealand by 2050.

As part of this new funding package National will create a $40 million contestable fund for Predator Free community projects to support the hundreds of groups around the country dedicated to tackling predators.

The $40 million would be invested over four years and administered by Predator Free 2050 Ltd, the Crown Company established to drive the effort to rid New Zealand of introduced pests by 2050.

“There’s been an extraordinary surge of enthusiasm from New Zealanders for Predator Free – with thousands of volunteers in Wellington alone. We want to harness their immense potential by giving them a significant boost in funding and resources and help them access traps, skills and expertise on a much greater scale than previously,” Ms Barry says.

Ms Barry says a further $21 million of the new funding will go towards boosting DOC’s baseline predator control funding to help ensure we hit the interim Predator Free target of 1 million hectares under sustained control by 2025 well ahead of schedule.

On top of this, National will provide $8 million over four years to DOC to double the number of specialist rangers charged with supporting Predator Free community groups and to invest in upgrades of equipment such as traps and lures as new technologies are developed through Predator Free 2050.

“The new funding means that the total government investment in Predator Free 2050 will climb to more than $24 million annually, or $97 million over four years. And that’s before we add in the private sector and council contributions,” Ms Barry says.

“New Zealand’s natural world is at the core of our quality of life, our national identity and our competitive advantage, and National is committed to protecting and enhancing it.

“Predator Free 2050 is our very best opportunity to protect our unique birds and animals for future generations. By combining the efforts of the Government, the philanthropic sector and thousands of committed volunteers we are confident we can make great progress towards a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050,” Ms Barry says.

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