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$3.275m over five years aims to make Wellington predator free

News from PF2050
Major funding – $3.275million over five years – announced today from Predator Free 2050 Limited brings Wellington a step closer to becoming the world’s first predator free capital city.

Speaking at the funding announcement event, Ed Chignell, CEO of Predator Free 2050 Limited, said he would love for Wellingtonians to have a city free of possums, rats and stoats where birds like kākā, kārearea, kererū – and ultimately kiwi – can flourish.

“This is not a pipedream, the $3.275 million of funding Predator Free Wellington and Capital Kiwi jointly receive over the five years means the world’s first predator free Capital is within reach,” Mr Chignell said.

Predator Free Wellington and Capital Kiwi are the charitable entities behind this bold vision. Ed Chignell said they are just the third regional project to receive funding.

The Wellington City Council and the Greater Wellington Regional Council are both significant funders in Predator Free Wellington, alongside philanthropic organisation NEXT Foundation.

Chris Laidlaw, Chair of the Greater Wellington Regional Council, said: “We’ve already proven we can do this, we eradicated possums from the Miramar peninsula in 2006. This additional funding from Predator Free 2050 Limited allows us to take the next big step and prove we can scale up predator eradication across the whole of Wellington.

“Miramar Peninsula will be the first area to really target full scale predator eradication. Backyard trapping is the first hit, helping to get the numbers down. Next year we’ll rollout intensive operations, which will take a real bite out of predator numbers and put us in a much better position to achieve our ultimate goal of eradication,” Cr Laidlaw said.

“From there we spread the success formula into Island Bay and the city, and in successive waves north to Porirua.”

Strategic philanthropic foundation NEXT sees this project as a blueprint for other New Zealand cities. Bill Kermode, CEO, NEXT Foundation said we know these plans are ambitious but we need big goals, big vision to make big change.

“What is remarkable about Predator Free Wellington is not just the scale of what is being proposed, but the fact that the project is centred in a major city where people work, live and play every day. Wellington is leading the way with urban predator eradication,” said Mr Kermode

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester said Wellington people have strongly indicated, through the long-term plan process, they want a predator-free Wellington “This project represents an unprecedented conservation movement in the wider Wellington region, spanning community, government agencies, philanthropists, public and private stakeholders,” said Mayor Lester. “It is a movement that has been growing for 20 plus years, thanks to the platform provided by Wellington’s pioneering trappers.

“Wellingtonians want to see this happen, we have thousands of households already involved, across 43 of Wellington’s 57 suburbs, backed up by more than 120 community groups.

“A predator-free Wellington will support the continued flourishing of other native species now present in Wellington City, including kākā, tieke, kārearea, kākāriki and little penguin.

“It will also allow for the translocation of kiwi to Wellington and other locally extinct species into the predator free environment,” said Mayor Lester.

Along with the Predator Free 2050 Limited Funding, Capital Kiwi’s vision of bringing kiwi back to Wellington has been kick-started by a foundational donation from the Wellington Community Trust.

Roger Palairet, Wellington Community Trust Chairperson, said: “What a wonderful legacy we would be creating, to know that one day people would hear kiwi in their backyards.”

Predator Free Wellington and Capital Kiwi are one of the first projects supported by Predator Free 2050 Limited, a 100% government-owned charitable company. This partnership will help supercharge the eradication efforts and support the longer term outcomes for Wellington residents to embrace the change and help the city reach its nature restoration goals.

News from NZ Government
The Government is supporting a project to make Wellington the world’s first predator free capital city with a $3.27 million funding boost announced by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage today.

Capital Kiwi Project (a charitable trust) and Predator Free Wellington, a joint venture between Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and NEXT Foundation are jointly working to create a predator free Wellington which the Predator Free 2050 Limited funding will support.

“This work will help native plants and wildlife thrive and in future could enable kiwi to be introduced into Wellington’s urban wild landscape outside Zealandia,” Eugenie Sage said.

“Wellingtonians have shown their commitment to saving nature by achieving the country’s first predator free suburb with Crofton Downs, and a further 43 of the city’s 52 suburbs are running active community-based predator control programmes.

“Wellington’s Zealandia has also been inspiring. As New Zealand’s first fenced sanctuary it has seen the return of many species of native birds, insects and lizards. They flourish behind the predator proof fences and species like tieke/saddleback are now nesting beyond the sanctuary.

“Predator Free Wellington and Capital Kiwi Project will scale up these efforts into a $15 million, 10 year project to eradicate possums, rats and mustelids from 30,000ha within the city boundaries.

“Initially the plan is to eradicate rats, weasels and stoats from the Miramar Peninsula, before rolling out across the entire Wellington City. Concurrently Predator Free Wellington is supporting predator control in reserves and backyards across the city to continue predator control to protect indigenous bird and lizard populations which are growing dramatically.

“In the urban areas, Predator Free Wellington will continue to support the community backyard trapping movement and use a mix of tools and approaches to eradicate stoats, rats and possums from the project area, and defend it from reinvasion.

“The Capital Kiwi Project is working in collaboration with Greater Wellington Council, landowners, iwi and the community groups to accelerate the eradication of stoats from the Wellington area to enable kiwi to be re-introduced.

“New Zealand has a predator crisis – 82% of native birds are threatened with, or at risk of extinction.

“From the backyards to the backblocks of the country, central and local government, iwi, whānau, hāpu, landholders, conservation groups, businesses, philanthropic organisations, communities and individual Kiwis love our unique native plants and wildlife and want to see them protected.”

• Predator Free 2050 Limited is a government-owned charitable company established to support co-funding arrangements that help expand and scale-up predator control operations. It aims to work towards a predator free New Zealand by 2050.

• Initially the plan is to eradicate rats, weasels and stoats from the Miramar Peninsula, before rolling out across the entire Wellington City. While work proceeds in Miramar, Predator Free Wellington is supporting predator control in reserves and backyards across the city. Indigenous bird and lizard populations are growing dramatically across the city so it’s important these are allowed to flourish by continuing to control predators.

• In the urban areas, Predator Free Wellington will continue to support the community backyard trapping movement initiated by Wellingtonian Kelvin Hastie which saw Crofton Downs become New Zealand’s first predator free community in 2015. This backyard approach suppresses predators. But to finish the job and completely eradicate stoats, rats and possums from the project area, and defend it from reinvasion, the project needs to use a mix of tools and approaches.

• The Capital Kiwi Project is working in collaboration with councils, iwi, communities and landowners in eradicate stoats southwards from Johnsonville: from the large rural zone in the south-west to the edges of the city; taking in farm stations, wind farms and reserves and supporting community restoration groups working in these areas. After three years of meeting Kiwi Recovery Group criteria, the goal is for kiwi to be translocated to the area.

• In addition to the funding being provided by Predator Free 2050 Limited, Budget 2018 provided an extra $81.3 million in new funding to DOC for landscape scale predator control as part of an extra $181.6 million in operational funding for DOC over the next four years. That funding allows DOC to plan ahead and target the pests that are devastating the habitats of New Zealand’s unique species.