Initial funding from the DOC Community Conservation Partnerships Fund (CCPF) and the Auckland Council Regional, Environmental Natural Heritage Fund (RENH) was secured in 2016 and along with allocated funding from its own funds, have enabled the start of a Predator eradication programme to be developed across the whole of Waiheke. This is building on what is already being done by the likes of Auckland Council, DoC, Forest and Bird, Rocky Bay Ratbusters and numerous individuals islandwide and to try and identify the gaps and ensure they are filled.
This will contribute towards biodiversity protection and improve the ability for Waiheke Island to become a “Treasured Island” within the Hauraki Gulf and reduce the chance of re-invasion from Waiheke of nearby predator-free islands.
It should also enhance the potential for the successful reintroduction of native fauna, such as Kiwi, allow Waiheke to become a sanctuary for existing native species, encourage and inspire Waiheke Island residents and visitors to participate in predator control and conservation and create a success storey that will inspire others, including future generations to become involved in environmental initiatives.
As Waiheke is possum free initially the first phase of the programme has been a “proof-of-concept” phase focused on the eradication of mustelids through the use of existing best practice trapping systems and emerging technologies and in due course this will be extended to rodents. The programme will also look to engage the community in this initiative and others to include responsible pet ownership.
An Expert Advisory Panel has been established to include leading scientists and others involved in mustelid and rodent control. A Stakeholders Group, to drive the project, has also been formed to include representatives from the Hauraki Gulf Conservation Trust, Waiheke Resources Trust, Forest & Bird, Rocky Bay Ratbusters, Large landowners, SPCA, Local Board and local Iwi.
A co-ordinator and trapper team have recently completed the “proof-of-concept” phase and a report back to DoC and Auckland Council was made in June 2017. The next stages of the project are now being considered by the Stakeholder Group.
In conjunction with Forest and Bird and the SPCA and “Responsible Pet Ownership” brochure has been produced and was circulated through the Marketplace to all houses on the Island over Labour Weekend 2016.