Can we rid New Zealand of possums, rats and stoats by 2050?

Kevin Hackwell

Yes, we can,” says Forest & Bird’s Advocacy manager, Kevin Hackwell, who will be the guest speaker at the AGM of the Aongatete Forest Restoration Trust.

But Kevin cautions that this is an ambitious goal and will require new techniques and a co-ordinated team effort across communities, iwi, and the public and private sectors.

Caution doesn’t come naturally to this dynamo of a man who has been on the frontline of many of our major environmental and social battles over the past 35 years. He started his activist career at the tender age of 15 over the felling of the South Island’s beech forests. After gaining an honours degree in ecology, and while working for the DSIR, he took the government to task over its ‘think big’ schemes. Over the years he has played an important role in protecting our remaining native forests from logging, in establishing our nuclear-free status, the Official Information Act, the MMP electoral system and much more.

In advocating for Predator Free 2050, Kevin points out the huge benefits it will deliver across New Zealand – for the social and cultural links with our environment, for our regional economies through primary industries and tourism and for our threatened native species. New Zealand is a world leader in conservation technology and research, and we have already made progress that was once unthinkable, partly because of the tens of thousands of committed community volunteers.

But still rats, stoats and possums kill millions of native birds every year and have pushed species to the brink of extinction. Managing just these three predators for agriculture and conservation costs over $70 million each year. In 2016/17 the government invested an extra $20 million in the ‘battle for the birds’, to protect species from an increase in predators caused by heavy seeding of beech forests.

Come and hear Kevin discuss the challenges and the solutions at a public meeting on Tuesday 22 August, at 7.30pm at the Pahoia School hall. Everyone is welcome.