Let’s bring back the birdsong!
Imagine if Wellington were the world’s first predator free capital city – a network comprising thousands of households, community groups and organisations working together to eradicate rats, mustelids and possums, so our native wildlife can thrive. That’s the vision of Predator Free Wellington.
What’s remarkable about this project is not just the scale of what is being proposed, but the fact that the project is not being undertaken on a distant off-shore island. This project is centred in a city where people work, live and play every day.
Predator Free Wellington will be supporting and connecting community groups across Wellington who can assist in the vision to become a predator free city. We are a joint venture of Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and philanthropic organisation the NEXT Foundation.
What’s the plan?
Initially the plan is to eradicate rats, weasels and stoats from the Miramar Peninsula, before rolling out across the entire Wellington City. The Miramar Peninsula was chosen as the initial area of focus as it has been possum free since 2006 and as a peninsula it’s more easily defendable from predator reinvasion – the airport runway acts as a barrier to keep these enemies out. While work proceeds in Miramar, we’re supporting predator eradication in reserves and backyards across the city, especially in wildlife hotspots around Zealandia. Indigenous bird and lizard populations are growing dramatically in these parts of the city so it’s really important that we can allow this to flourish by continuing to control predators.
In the urban areas, Predator Free Wellington will scale up from a community backyard trapping programme championed by Wellingtonian Kelvin Hastie which saw Crofton Downs become New Zealand’s first predator free community in 2015. Kelvin’s work found that if 1 in 4 households were trapping, it was enough to make an impact on predator control, with final eradication completed by backing this up in reserves.
This backyard approach will supress predators, however to finish the job and completely eradicate stoats, rats and possums from the project area, and defend it from reinvasion, we will need to use a mix of tools.
These could include a baiting programme in the CBD. In the rural zone (which is the largest land mass) being a mixture of farmland, wind farms and regenerating forest we will work with landowners and Greater Wellington Regional Council. Wellington City Council will focus on the parks and reserves and support community restoration groups working in these areas.
How big is the project area?
For the purposes of this project “Wellington” is seen as the area that includes Miramar Peninsula through to the South-West corner of the greater Wellington landmass and north to a boundary roughly aligning with the SH1 motorway through to the Porirua City boundary. It does not include the Hutt Valley or Porirua City. It is an area encompassing 30,000ha of urban and rural land, with an estimated 70,000 households.
We will look to coordinate with Porirua City in their predator control efforts as the SH1 motorway is a logical defensible barrier against reinvasion.
Capital Kiwi is highly complementary to the Predator Free Wellington programme. In January 2018 a coalition was forged between the two projects, representing unity and partnership. While Predator Free Wellington’s initial focus is on Miramar eradication, Capital Kiwi will be tackling the south-western front. Both campaigns will form a pincer movement, working together with community groups to progressively target the capital’s introduced pests and allowing native wildife to flourish. You can read more about Capital Kiwi here.