14 May 2018

Govt puts extra $80m towards eradicating pests

5:23 pm on 14 May 2018

Efforts to eradicate rats, stoats and possums are set to get a boost of $80 million in next week's Budget.

The government announced it's aiming to make New Zealand predator free by 2050.

Possums, stoats and rats are being targeted in the upcoming Budget. Photo: 123RF

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage made the pre-Budget announcement this morning.

"We need to invest in comprehensive predator control in order to save special wildlife like kiwi," Ms Sage said.

"We have a biodiversity crisis, where 82 percent of native birds are threatened with or at risk of extinction."

The extra $81.3m over four years will allow the Department of Conservation to carry out sustained predator control over more than 1.8 million hectares.

The area - about the size of Northland and Auckland combined - will be the largest ever covered.

DOC currently targets possums across 1 million hectares around New Zealand.

"For the first time, predator control funding will be locked in," Ms Sage said.

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Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

"Budget 2018 means DOC won't have to divert funding from other priorities or scramble to get one-off allocations from government in order to do this essential work."

Forest and Bird said the boost was a good start and spokesperson Kevin Hackwell said the funding boost meant 1.8 million hectares - about one-third of DOC's forests - would have regular pest management within four years - a ten-fold increase.

"In the past the Department of Conservation has had to go ... cap in hand to get one-off funding to respond to those emergencies, and now the government is saying that it's going to baseline a bigger amount than even those emergency years, as a baseline, that's a huge improvement."

But Mr Hackwell said there would still be many places where native species continued to be killed.

In areas without pest control, four out of five kiwi chicks don't survive their first year.

Labour's agreements with New Zealand First and the Green Party to form a government both committed to increasing conservation funding.

The details of the full conservation budget will be released along with the rest of Budget 2018 on Thursday.

"When 4000 of our native plants and animals are threatened or at risk of extinction, every single conservation dollar counts," Ms Sage said.

"This injection of $81.3 million is only the start of this government's investment in nature."

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