National aims for a predator free New Zealand

The Government has revealed what it calls the most ambitious conservation project in the world – exterminating all rats, stoats and possums in New Zealand before 2050.

These predators are now costing New Zealand’s economy and primary sector $3.3 billion a year, Prime Minister John Key said this afternoon.

In response, the Government will set up a new joint venture company, Predator Free New Zealand Limited, at a cost of $28 million over four years, to identify large-scale pest eradication projects and attract private investment to boost their reach.

For every $2 put towards pest control projects by councils and the private sector, the Government will contribute another $1.

The ultimate goal is to have every part of New Zealand free of rats, stoats and possums by 2050.

Announcing the initiative in Wellington today, Key said New Zealand led the world on many environmental indicators, but could still improve on biodiversity.

“While there was once a time when the greatest threat was deforestation and poaching, today it is introduced predators.”

Rats, stoats and possums killed an estimated 25 million native birds a year.

It is impossible to be critical of a plan to create a predator-free New Zealand.  But you do have to stack it up against reality.

Assuming creative thinking, new science and the right attitude can get us most of the way, this plan puts a big question mark over cats, especially feral ones.

Why are they exempt?

From a cynical perspective, National can take all the credit for starting this idea off, but they are highly unlikely to be in a position to see it through to the end.   This is pure feel-good stuff.  Good fuel for a campaign, but essentially something that is set up to fail.

[John Key] referred to the late Sir Paul Callaghan’s comment that eradicating pests was New Zealand’s “Apollo Project”.

There is one thing that the Apollo Project had that this doesn’t:  the pressure of a ridiculous deadline.  That means the same people that start the project will not be the same as the ones that will continue to fund it nor finish it.

And therein lies the major flaw.


– Isaac Davison, NZ Herald

Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.