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Our places: Pest Free Banks Peninsula

Ruru Morepork image: Steve Attwood

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Pest Free Banks Peninsula

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Home > Nature-based solutions > Banks Peninsula > Pest Free Banks Peninsula


Context and purpose of the project

The Pest Free Banks Peninsula project brings together 14 organisations bound together by a vision to ultimately make the 110,000ha peninsula, an ideal location for a mainland island, pest free. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by representatives of the groups in November 2018 and the project began 09 August 2020. The project will enable the continued recovery of populations of hōiho/yellow-eyed penguins, kororā/little blue penguins, tītī/sooty shearwater and reintroduced tūi.

One of the partners of this project is Predator Free 2050, whose goal is to eradicate stoats, possums, and rats by 2050. In many locations, other pest species pose an equal if not greater threat, so additional strategies need to be used. On Kaitorete Spit (Fig. 1), feral cats are a major threat to reptiles, invertebrates, and also bird species.

Fig. 1: Kaitorete Spit
On the peninsula itself, in addition to possums, goats are a major pest species that destroy native plant and tree species, spread the seeds of pest plants, transmit disease, and browse gorse, which in many areas is acting as a nursery crop for natural forest recovery and regeneration (see Hinweai Reserve Video 1). Losing our native plant species and with them, soil biodiversity in turn destroys life-supporting ecosystems services including the ability to draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it permanently in our native forests and soils (Fig. 2).

“Control of mammalian herbivores is likely to be one of the most significant and cost-effective options for protecting and enhancing the country’s massive stores of natural carbon.”Hacknell and Robinson

Fig. 2: Estimates of the annual methane emissions (CH4) from introduced herbivores. The equivalent carbon dioxide emisssion eCO2 is on the right. (Image: Hackwell et al, 2021)

Key actions

Predator Free 2050 Limited has provided $5.11m funding to enable:

    • Remove possums from the 23,000ha Wildside area in the south east of the peninsula (Fig. 3)
    • Suppress mustelids, rats and feral cats to low levels on the 5,500ha Kaitorete Spit  (Fig. 1).

These areas are rich in biodiversity, can be readily defended due to natural geographic constraints, and can be scaled up as the project extends in the future.

An additional $5.04m in funding is being used to bolster and expand well-established trapping programmes and previous work that has reduced possum and goat numbers.

Fig. 3: ‘The Wildside’ (Image: Banks Peninsula Trust)

How this help mitigate the impacts of climate change

  • Protecting existing area of high biodiversity from pest species ensures that the benefits of life-supporting ecosystem services continues. These services include providing habitats for endemic taonga species that pollinate plants, and, along with microbes and fungi that help recycle nutrients, helps the soil absorb and permanently store carbon and helping to retard or limit the risk of fires as the climate warms.
  • How long the deposition of sediment continues to be deposited on the 5,500ha Kaitorete Spit in the face of accelerating sea level rise is uncertain, but protecting the sand-binding native vegetation and the unique endemic species along the spit from predators will play a vital role in protecting it.

More information

    Setting up and using the DOC200 trap