Facilitated by Auckland Council, Pest Free Auckland enables community-led conservation to remove invasive species (plants, animals and pathogens) and restore Auckland’s native ecosystems.
A key to its success is partnerships between community groups, mana whenua, landowners and schools, council and local boards, DOC and the private and philanthropic sectors.
The initial focus is on islands and peninsulas – places with defendable geographies – as well as open sanctuaries and corridors. Auckland Council’s contribution to Pest Free Auckland 2050 includes three components:
- Providing a support package to community groups, iwi and landowners to implement conservation action at home, in schools and in parks. Support includes tools, technical advice, networking and funding.
- Showcasing and celebrating community action, monitoring and communicating conservation activities and trends.
- Delivering great conservation outcomes in local and regional parks and along road corridors.
Pest Free Auckland is largely funded by the Natural Environment Targeted Rate, which was introduced in July 2018.
The Auckland region has an extensive number of pest free initiatives underway, including Pest Free Hauraki Gulf and Te Korowai o Waiheke — Predator Free Waiheke.
Pest Free Hauraki Gulf
The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park was created in the year 2000 becoming New Zealand’s first “national park” covering both marine and island ecosystems.
46 out of 50 islands in the Hauraki Gulf are already predator free due to a joint initiative between DOC and Auckland Council.
Originally known as “Treasure Islands” the project is now referred to as Pest Free Hauraki. None of the pest-free islands are within the swimming distance of rodents, which means the focus has been on preventing stowaways.
An extensive biosecurity programme is in place that requires ferries and commercial operators to ensure they are not carrying any stowaways such as rats, stoats, invasive weeds, skinks and ants. A 2016 evaluation of the programme found since 2000 there had only been one incursion onto pest free islands. An amazing achievement.
Te Korowai o Waiheke – Towards Predator Free Waiheke
Te Korowai o Waiheke has an island-wide stoat eradication programme operational since January 2020 and is currently planning a rat eradication pilot aiming to start field work trials in mid 2021. The goal of the Te Korowai o Waiheke Trust is to remove stoats and rats and become the world’s first predator free urban island. Keep track of their stoat eradication programme here.
The Te Korowai o Waiheke trust was established by the local community and builds on predator control work being done across around a third of the island, through the efforts of community groups, landowners and Auckland Council. This has enabled kākā to nest on the island in recent years and kākāriki are starting to visit following release on neighbouring Motuihe Island. Birds like tūī, kererū, grey-faced petrel and little blue penguin/kororā are also benefiting from the effort.
The Te Korowai o Waiheke programme will involve careful co-ordination and community engagement, utilising a mix of tools and methods, across townships, lifestyle blocks, vineyards, farms and reserves. It is one of the first projects to benefit from Auckland Council’s targeted environment rate. Find out more on their Facebook page.