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No more rats: New Zealand to exterminate all introduced predators

25 July 2016

No more rats: New Zealand to exterminate all introduced predators

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.”

Find out more on this story here


First list of IAS of Union Concern published by European Commission

14 July 2016

First list of IAS of Union Concern published by European Commission
On 14 July the European Commission published Commission Implementing Regulation 2016/1141, which implements the first list of Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern, comprising 37 species (23 animals and 14 plants). The list will come into force on 3 August 2016. In addition to the general FAQ which the Commission has published on its website, the UK has also produced its own FAQ for UK stakeholders which can be found here.

More information about the EU Regulation can be found on our webpages here.

Volunteer wanted to map distribution of invasive plants in Galápagos

A volunteer is sought to map the distribution of invasive plants in Galápagos

From the project organisers:

Starting date: As soon as possible

Duration: A minimum of 3 months

Introduction

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.

Volunteer’s responsibilities

· 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

Required profile

· 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 (heinke.jaeger@fcdarwin.org.ec) at the Charles Darwin Research Station.


Thin strip of image show tree trunk and bark