Pest free Banks Peninsula agreement launched today

  • Hon Eugenie Sage

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage today launched a milestone agreement towards a pest free Banks Peninsula/Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū in Canterbury.

More than a dozen participating groups and agencies including the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust, Department of Conservation (DOC), Christchurch City Council, Environment Canterbury and Ngāi Tahu rūnanga today signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to remove pest animals from the 115,000 hectare peninsula by 2050.

“This is a significant step towards the vision of a pest free Banks Peninsula and builds on decades of community driven ecological restoration work,” Eugenie Sage said.

“There is a strong history of community and landholder conservation on the peninsula and the pest free vision has been developed by the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust in consultation with landowners and the community.

“The growth of trapping groups on Banks Peninsula and among Port Hills and Lyttelton Harbour communities shows there is widespread community support for this venture.”

Banks Peninsula, which includes Kaitorete Spit, has diverse landscapes and a rich array of native plants and animals. As a peninsula indented with deep bays, its geography ideally supports the staged control and removal of animal pests.

Eugenie Sage said significant inroads had already been made on reducing possum and goat numbers in recent years and there were long-standing successful trapping programmes.

“Projects like Wildside, where intensive trapping over 13.500 ha has doubled the populations of white-flippered penguin/kororā and sooty shearwater/tītīon at the south-eastern side of Banks Peninsula, show the potential of a pest-free environment.

“The white-flippered penguin/kororā colony at Pōhatu/Flea Bay has gone from 700 to more than 1200 nests in the last 18 years and has enabled a thriving ecotourism business as well as delighting thousands of people on evening penguin tours.

“Pest Free Banks Peninsula is a wonderful local initiative to restore native biodiversity, like the recently returned tuī, that will also contribute to a predator free New Zealand.

“This community-led programme will transform the environment for our native plants and wildlife to flourish on the doorstep of our second largest city.”