Thursday 11 July 2019

Predator Free 2050: New Zealand ramps up plan to purge all pests

By Phil MercerBBC News, Wellington
9 July 2019
"Wake up in paradise" is New Zealand's proud boast. It has a rightful swagger: its turquoise glacial lakes are ringed by untouched mountain ranges, while historic Māori sites speak of a people at one with the natural world.
But there are stains on the environment. In this corner of the South Pacific, waterways are increasingly polluted and, from the suburbs to the alpine peaks, an untold army of feral pests is running amok, putting about 80% of New Zealand's bird species at the risk of extinction.
It's four years since the former prime minister John Key set a goal of eradicating stoats, rats and possums by mid-century in arguably the world's most ambitious bio-diversity fight-back.
"It is a massive project but it is starting to track really well," Brent Beavan, the programme manager for Predator Free 2050, told the BBC. "Over the next five years I think you'll see that momentum accelerate and then we'll start stepping into some really large-scale programmes."
The task ahead appears truly Herculean, but Jessi Morgan from the Predator Free New Zealand Trust, which supports grassroots organisations, believes there has been a decisive cultural shift in the attitudes of New Zealanders.
"What has changed is the main-streaming of this movement," she explained to the BBC.
"It is now becoming something that we all do and we all have bought into this vision of removing predators from New Zealand. In Wellington [the capital] there is now not a suburb within the city that doesn't have a predator-free community, and that's pretty massive."

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