No more rats: New Zealand to exterminate all introduced predators
25 July 2016
The New Zealand government has announced a “world-first” project to make the nation predator free by 2050.
The prime minister, John Key, said on Monday it would undertake a radical pest extermination programme – which if successful would be a global first – aiming to wipe out the introduced species of rats, stoats and possums nation-wide in a mere 34 years.
According to the government, introduced species kill 25m native New Zealand birds a year including the iconic ground-dwelling, flightless Kiwi, which die at a rate of 20 a week, and now number fewer than 70,000.
The government estimates the cost of introduced species to the New Zealand economy and primary sector to be NZ$3.3bn (£1.76bn) a year.
“Our ambition is that by 2050 every single part of New Zealand will be completely free of rats, stoats and possums,” said Key in a statement.
“This is the most ambitious conservation project attempted anywhere in the world, but we believe if we all work together as a country we can achieve it.”
Existing pest control methods in New Zealand include the controversial and widespread use of 1080 aerial poison drops, trapping and ground baiting, and possum hunting by ground hunters (possum fur has become a vibrant industry in New Zealand, and is used for winter clothing).
Emeritus Professor of Conservation Mick Clout from the University of Auckland said he was “excited” by the “ambitious plan” which if achieved would be a “remarkable world first”.
“Even the intention of making New Zealand predator free is hugely significant and now it has money and the government behind it I believe it is possible, I am actually very excited,” said Clout.
“The biggest challenge will be the rats and mice in urban areas. For this project to work it will need the urban communities to get on board. Possum extermination will be the easiest because they only breed once a year and there are already effective control methods in place.”
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Check Clean Dry - don't bring back invasive species and diseases from abroad
16 July 2016
If you're off in search of sunny weather and new waters this summer remember to Check, Clean, Dry to make sure you don't bring back any hitchhikers!
Invasive non-native species can kill fish, damage boat engines and props, block up waterways and make navigation and paddling difficult. As a water user you may unknowingly be spreading them from one water body to another. Animals, eggs, larvae and tiny plant fragments can easily be carried on equipment, shoes and clothing, and some can survive out of water in damp conditions for over two weeks.
Once established in a new waterbody, invasive species can become unmanageable. You can help to protect the sport you love by remembering to Check, Clean, Dry your clothing and equipment when you leave the water. If you're heading abroad it's even more important to Check, Clean, Dry while you're away or you could bring back a new invasive species or disease.
- Check your equipment, clothing and footwear
- Clean everything thoroughly before you return, use hot water where possible
- Dry everything as some species can live for over two weeks in damp conditions
First list of IAS of Union Concern published by European Commission
14 July 2016
More information about the EU Regulation can be found on our webpages here.
Volunteer wanted to map distribution of invasive plants in Galápagos
From the project organisers:
Starting date: As soon as possible
Duration: A minimum of 3 months
We are looking for someone who can help us in the process of defining the distribution of invasive plant species using remote sensing techniques. The main resources to attain this goal are satellite and drone Imagery. The base methodology, which involves the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and a Random Forest model programmed in R, has already been developed. We are looking for help applying the same methodology to more areas of the inhabited Islands of the Galápagos archipelago, as well as exploring options to further refine the outcome of the model.
· Carry out field trips to obtain ground data for geo-referencing of plant species
· Continue deploying and developing a Random Forest model formulated using QGis, GDAL and R
· Processing drone imagery into orthophotos
· Documenting the methodology applied as well as all achieved results and challenges
· A good understanding of the ensemble learning technique "Random Forest" and its application on satellite imagery
· Previous experience with the R programming language. The volunteer will need to follow and understand already existing R scripts, and implement new scripts to further develop the modeling process
· Previous experience with Geographic Information Systems, either QGIS or ArcGIS, and ideally having used GDAL before
· Experience in the photogrammetric processing of drone aerial images, in order to generate 3D spatial data. Ideally, experience with the Agrisoft Photoscan software
· Familiarization with the management of a simple relational database
· The willingness to carry out field work. This involves planning and going to field trips to geo-reference some of the most important invasive plant species of Galápagos
· Ideally, the volunteer should have practical experience flying multirotor drones
Terms and Conditions
While we very much appreciate the support given to this project, we are unfortunately not able to cover any expenses associated with this. The candidate will have to cover his/her own expenses for flight tickets, transportation, insurance, food and other. We are seeking funds to cover housing expenses at the Charles Darwin Research Station, but this cannot be guaranteed yet.
How to apply
For those interested in applying to this position, please write to Heinke Jäger (email@example.com) at the Charles Darwin Research Station.