What does the Predator Free Dunedin project aim to achieve?

We will reinvigorate Dunedin as New Zealand's wildlife capital, by providing secure habitat for the many taoka species that call this place home.  Species such as the kikimutu (rifleman) and the kakaruwai (South Island robin) will be better protected, and other species such as the South Island kākā will spread beyond their current habitat into areas that residents live and play.  

While this is a technical challenge, PFD also sees it as a social challenge because its success depends upon the community connecting with the goal and seeing themselves as part of this opportunity to redefine Dunedin’s position as the wildlife capital of New Zealand.  PFD aims to achieve a predator-free state by working with our community to harness their motivation to participate actively.  PFD is firmly grounded in community-led inspiration and action.

 

What is being funded?

There are three parts that currently make up the PFD project. Two constituent landscape-scale projects are already well advanced. The Predator Free Peninsula project (Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Trust) has been underway since 2011 and is targeting possums over 9,000 ha.  Funding will be used to achieve eradication of possums from the Otago Peninsula by 2023. The Guardians, a strong and growing community group at the gateway to the Otago Peninsula, will prevent reinvasion.

The Halo Predator Free project, led by the Landscape Connections Trust in collaboration with Orokonui Ecosanctuary and OSPRI, is working with residents to roll out a predator trapping programme spanning 12,500 ha and over time, reaching into Dunedin City and across the two islands in Otago Harbour.  This builds upon the inspiring success of the Orokonui Ecosanctuary and OSPRI's current possum knockdown operation. 

The third component project is called the Urban Linkage. This includes the main urban part of Dunedin City that will link together the two landscape-scale projects. This project is in the planning stage and processes will be developed to enable neighbourhood clusters and groups of interest to implement city-wide predator control.  The Dunedin City Council is performing concerted predator control within the Town Belt and inner city reserves, as a part of this programme.

 

What will the PFD project cost and who is funding it?

The PFD project is a $15 million project over five years.  PF2050 Ltd is providing cornerstone funding of $4.33 million over the five-year period.  The Otago Regional Council is contributing $1.5 million over this same period, and the Dunedin City Council $850,000.  The Dunedin City Council is providing additional direct financial assistance by focussing its parks and reserves predator management budget to those reserves within the Urban Linkage, amounting to an additional $1 million over five years.  OSPRI's TB-free possum knockdown programme, costing over $3 million, is providing the basis for long-term sustained control of possums across large parts of Dunedin's northern environments.  Significant co-funding has been contributed by PFD Partners, including Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research, University of Otago, Landscape Connections Trust, Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Trust, and others.  The volunteer effort, which is at the heart of this project, contributes valuable in-kind support.

 

How does Predator Free Dunedin work?

This presents a huge opportunity for existing predator free projects to work in collaboration to accelerate Dunedin’s efforts to become predator free and to reassert its status as New Zealand’s wildlife capital. With PFD focusing on both sides of the harbour, and the Urban Linkage that connects these areas, we will progress on three fronts.

PFD supports suburban backyard trapping groups who have, or are keen to establish and maintain, community trapping programmes through the provision of tools, best practice and resources. This support comes through the existing projects managed by Landscape Connections Trust and Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Trust, and through a new group that is being formed to coordinate action across the Urban Linkage.  Residents are encouraged to make contact with PFD via their website. 

PFD will build on and support the work of existing and new groups. There is amazing momentum amongst communities organising themselves to trap predators on their properties.  Predator Free Dunedin will be providing support and advice to trapping groups, not replacing them.

What is the Predator Free Dunedin Trust?

Predator Free Dunedin (PFD) has grown from the collective desire of many conservation-focused agencies and groups to eradicate predators from the city and rural landscape.

PFD builds upon the existing work of the Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Trust, Landscape Connections Trust, Orokonui Ecosanctuary, OSPRI, Dunedin City Council and the cumulative contribution of other, often long-standing community predator control efforts undertaken across the city.

PFD’s strengths are based on existing relationships that have been developed within the partnership and the wider community.  The PFD project will join the dots of already ambitious projects, through a shared city vision.  Existing projects will retain their own identity, structure and ambitions to deliver on their individual goals, but have the benefit of being a part of a broader vision that is embedded in the city’s identity.

PFD will tap into and augment Dunedin’s strengths in mammalian predator control and ecological restoration research and practice in primary, secondary and tertiary education.

 

Who is a part of the Predator Free Dunedin Trust?

There are currently 20 organisations that have joined together to form the Predator Free Dunedin Trust.  These organisations currently include: Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki Incorporated; Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou; Dunedin City Council, Otago Regional Council, OSPRI New Zealand Limited, Department of Conservation, University of Otago, Otago Polytechnic, Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research, Landscape Connections Trust, Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Trust, The Otago Chamber of Commerce Incorporated, Otago Natural History Trust, The Dunedin Wildlife Trust, Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Incorporated, Otago Peninsula Trust, The Pukekura Trust, Save the Otago Peninsula Society Incorporated and Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua Community Incorporated.  It also includes any other entity that becomes a party to the Memorandum of Understanding in the future.

 

Is the Predator Free Dunedin Trust an independent entity?

The PFD Trust is an independent entity that has been formed for the purpose of promoting conservation and the preservation and protection of New Zealand's native species through advancing the long term goal of total eradication of mammalian predators, such as possums, mustelids and rodents, for environmental, economic, social and cultural purposes. 

Five Trustees have been appointed by the 20 organisations listed above.  An independent Chair is to be appointed by the five Trustees. It is a responsibility of the PFD Trust Board to regularly report and liaise with the organisations that make up the PFD Trust.  This requirement is captured in a Terms of Reference document.

 

Who are the delivery partners of Predator Free Dunedin?

The contractual delivery partners of PFD are the Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Trust, Landscape Connections Trust and any future delivery partners that are as yet undefined.  The Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Trust will work closely with the Department of Conservation, the Dunedin City Council and other stakeholders to achieve the best outcomes. The Landscape Connection Trust will work closely with Dunedin City Council, Otago Natural History Trust (Orokonui Ecosanctuary), Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua Community Incorporated and OSPRI to deliver its contractual outcomes, and therefore retains a direct communicative and operational relationship with these entities.

 

Is Predator Free Dunedin targeting cats?

No, but residents are encouraged to be responsible pet owners.

 

Will Predator Free Dunedin be using 1080?

No, 1080 is not currently being considered for operations within this initial project area.

 

What happens in five years, when the current funding runs out?

The project will be seeking funding from a variety of other sources on an ongoing basis, now and into the future.

 

What about pests like hedgehogs, mice, weeds etc.?

PFD is focusing on mustelids (like stoats), possums and rats as these have the greatest impact on native biodiversity. This also aligns with the Predator Free 2050 Limited initiative.  However, we recognise the significant impact other pest species have on our biodiversity and will be looking to target those species when appropriate, and when there is sufficient community support. 

 

What’s your response those who have said the Predator Free by 2050 goal is unachievable and destined for failure?

We do not agree with that assessment.  By setting the goal early, we have seen strong alignment in science effort that is helping guide rapid progress towards eradication being feasible. In the meantime, we are seeing investment in new tools and techniques that are going to make predator management more effective in the short-term. Dunedin is home to a number of critically endangered, regionally rare and declining species and we think protection of these is important. We also reflect on the words of those who said previous ambitious eradications were unachievable and unrealistic, but which in fact were achieved.

 

How will we know when we have been successful?

A project this ambitious will take some time. By measuring and monitoring, areas will be declared predator free, but once achieved, monitoring will continue to be essential to ensure we can manage the risk of incursions and preventing possums from re-establishing. The more visible signs of success will be seeing taoka species such as the South Island kākā, kakaruwai (South Island robin), and kikimutu (rifleman) dispersing and recovering their place through parts of the city where they are still not seen.  Another key measure of success is the extent of community involvement, people coming together in their way, to achieve a shared outcome.  PFD is a mission that all Dunedinites can be a part of. 

 

How are our city's research institutions involved?

We are collaborating with scientists and social scientists on current research projects and are seeking opportunities to undertake new research and test technology that will provide beneficial outcomes for all New Zealanders working toward achieving PF2050. Our research proposals will directly inform the PF2050 Ltd Research Strategy, specifically ‘eradicating the last 1%’ and ‘computer modelling of reinvasion rates’.  We will trial new technologies (e.g. sensor/aversion fences) and overcome the real-world practicalities that arise. Dunedin’s GigCity status also provides us with an excellent platform for developing and trialling IT solutions. 

 

How does this align with the Otago Regional Council’s Regional Pest Management Plan?

The Otago Regional Council is soon notifying the Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP). development of the draft Regional Pest Management Plan has supported the ambitions of Predator Free Dunedin through two proposed site-led programmes, covering the Otago Peninsula and the Halo Predator Free project area, between Aramaona and North East Valley and surrounding Orokonui Ecosanctuary.  The site-led programmes seek to manage pests whose presence, at or nearby, threaten the values that are special to particular sites.

A large number of new pests have been added to the plan under site-led programmes, i.e. feral deer, feral goat, feral pig, hedgehog, mustelid, rats, possum, banana passionfruit, Chilean flame creeper, Darwin’s barberry, Sycamore and Tradescantia.

The Regional Pest Management Plan is subject to a full public consultation process, expected to begin soon.

 

How does this align with OSPRI’s TB eradication goals?

The TBfree programme is on its way to eradicating bovine tuberculosis from New Zealand by 2055. Herds in the Mount Cargill area first became infected in 2015. The disease was traced back to possums and OSPRI began possum control in the area. While the TB infection is bad news for the farming community, OSPRI has become a part of PFD to make the most of the biodiversity gains achieved by the widespread possum control.  The OSPRI possum knock down provides a unique opportunity to dramatically lower the possum population over a short time frame.  Following this knockdown PFD and the Halo Predator Free project will implement a possum control programme to further lower the possum population over time. Please go to Mount Cargill TB Management Area Factsheet