Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says the agreement will allow “native plants and wildlife to flourish on the doorstep of our second largest city”.
Banks Peninsula could be predator free by 2050 under a new “milestone” agreement.
More than a dozen groups and agencies, including the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust, Department of Conservation, Environment Canterbury, and Ngāi Tahu rūnanga, signed a memorandum of understanding on Sunday to remove pests from the area.
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said the agreement “builds on decades of community driven ecological restoration work”.
“The growth of trapping groups on Banks Peninsula and among Port Hills and Lyttelton Harbour communities shows there is widespread community support for this venture.”
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The previous Government launched the Predator Free NZ Project in 2016, formally adopting a 2050 target for eradicating all pests that threaten New Zealand’s native birds. The National government kickstarted the campaign with a $28 million funding injection into a joint venture company.
Then Prime Minister John Key said at the time that introduced pests cost New Zealand and estimated $3.3 billion a year.
Sage said possum and goat numbers had been reduced in recent years, and projects like Wildside, whose intensive trapping has doubled the population of white-flippered penguins and sooty shearwaters, show the potential of a pest free environment.
“The white-flippered penguin (kororā) colony at Flea Bay has gone from 700 to more than 1200 nests in the last 18 years”, enabling a “thriving ecotourism business”, she added.
The 115,000 hectare peninsula has a rich array of native plants and animals. Tui have recently returned to the area.
The peninsula’s indented, deep bays “ideally” support the staged removal of animal pests, Sage said.
“This community-led programme will transform the environment for our native plants and wildlife to flourish on the doorstep of our second largest city.”