At the 2016 LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards
Auckland Council’s 1080 programme to reduce possum and rat numbers in the Hunua Ranges has been hailed as “courageous” by judges.
The Hunua Ranges Pest Management Programme, carried out in August and September 2015, achieved its targets of reducing pest numbers to allow for ecosystem recovery and the reintroduction of rare and threatened species.
In recent years, possum and rat numbers had increased significantly in the area, having a severe effect on the health of the forest and treasured native species that live within it. The range has the only naturally occurring population of kokako in mainland Auckland. It is also the habitat of a number of rare and endangered flora and fauna including the long-tailed bat, Hochstetter’s frog, and kaka. Other indigenous species, including kereru, bellbird, tomtit, tui and piwakawaka (fantail) also live in the ranges.
The council voted to change the way it managed pests to include the use of 1080 bait with the aim of reducing pest numbers to less than five percent and increase flora and fauna in the parklands. This included private land and land managed by other agencies and was successful in reducing the pest numbers to target levels, and increasing biodiversity. The approach has significantly reduced predator numbers and led to a marked improvement in native species.
This was achieved by using technology and science to distribute much lower doses of 1080 than in the past.
Judges praised the project as “a well-planned and courageous initiative which achieved its objective to protect native wildlife in the Hunua Ranges, while at the same time safeguarding the water supply to New Zealand’s largest city, which is important to New Zealand”.
This article was first published in the August 2016 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.