By - Wayne Linklater 09/05/2017 4


I have established that Predator Free 2050 (PF2050) is not scientifically rational because it can’t be done and carries with it extraordinary scientific, political and social risks for gains that are less than required to address our nation’s environmental and biodiversity challenges.

Instead of PF2050 it would be more sensible, lower risk and increase our chances of sustained biodiversity conservation if we worked with current technologies and took their gradual, incremental improvements as a bonus.

Fortunately, there is a rational and scientific alternative, developed over the last 50 years, and it is called Integrated Landscape and Pest Management.

First, we have proven that it is possible to protect our most vulnerable biodiversity in sanctuaries and reserves.

Second, we know how to scientifically manage predators around those sanctuaries, the halo, so that it supports greater numbers of our less vulnerable biodiversity.

These zones also provide us opportunities to investigate other ways of reducing the impact of depredation across larger areas where predators cannot be eradicated. Conservationists have largely equated depredation as solvable only by killing predators but ecology is complex and tells us something very different.

All native prey are not equally vulnerable and similarly vulnerable in all habitats. And predator control doesn’t benefit all native species. NZ ecologists haven’t asked as much about the science of how habitat can be managed and grown to reduce depredation’s impact (e.g., refugia and compensatory reproduction) while expanding biodiversity spatial range because it allows coexistence with predators. We should investigate these ecologically rich themes with greater effort rather than the jingoism and slogans of PF2050.

Third, we also know how to manage those sanctuaries and their halos as a connected national network of biodiversity using landscape corridors and transfers.

Last, but most importantly, we know how to reverse the decline of New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity in the 67% of our country that is our farmed and urban landscapes.

These things are possible, achievable with current technology and a modest increase in conservation budgets, and they would deliver greater biodiversity gains than PF 2050 at less cost and with fewer scientific, political and social risks.

Integrated Landscape Management and Integrated Pest Management includes some predator control because it is a necessary part of the solution but incorporates a greater number of objectives and diversity of approaches at the different scales at which they can be most effective, including habitat enhancement and the management of predator-prey biological communities.

Ecological science knows how to do this stuff well and we do a lot of it already. We just need to scale it up and coordinate it better nationally.

In arriving at PF 2050 we have ignored that science, expertise and experience and sacrificed it for an impossible and expensive but under-resourced political strategy.

PF2050 might be “exciting” but it is not rational.

 

Featured image: Buffy May / flickr. 


4 Responses to “We can do better than Predator Free 2050”

  • The author seems to believe that Predator Free 2050 and managed sanctuaries & haloes for native flora & fauna are somehow antithetical. By all means, let’s have sanctuaries & haloes, but let’s aim for a future where we don’t need them, because the whole of NZ is a sanctuary.

    • Hi Edmund,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Yes, I do think they are antithetical. One is not possible but the other is. One involves large scientific, political and social risks and the other much less so. One is highly selective of the ecological science used to support it while the other is informed by over a half century of inter-disciplinary ecological science, especially around Integrated Landscape and Pest Management. One will require that conservationists ride rough-shod over the values of other New Zealanders while the other much less so.

      I could go on.

      We don’t need the sort of extremist, absolutionist, and jingoistic policy that is Predator Free 2050 to make progress in conservation. In fact, I argue that sustained progress in conservation requires that we be less of these things.

      Predator Free 2050 is antithetical to politically, socially and biological sustainable conservation.

      Regards,
      Wayne.

      • It’s a pity that you’re so invested in the underwhelming “little sanctuary” idea that you can’t even acknowledge that a larger sanctuary — NZ — is a worthwhile goal.

  • Excellent Wayne, Good to hear at last expert voices from ecology science challenging the PF2050 simplistic slogans and juggernaut chemical approach to managing complex NZ ecosystems. Also you acknowledge how the currentmodel, with its crude untargeted aerial bombing methods, runs roughshod over “the values of other New Zealanders”. So true. Many rural people see what actually is going on, and are impacted in their water supplies, their access to wild food and medicine, and the stereotyping, slurs and disrespect they get for dissgreeing with the dominant conservation militaristic paradigm.

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