- Wayne Linklater

Dr Wayne Linklater is a researcher in Wildlife Biology & Human Dimensions Ecology at Victoria University. He is also Ex-Officio Representative on New Zealand's CITES Scientific Authorities Committee and Co-President (Academic) of the Victoria University Branch of the Tertiary Education Union.

Predator Free by 2050 – a reputational risk to conservation - Politecol

Mar 16, 2018

I am suspicious when government conservation policy is promoted as a religious war against animals, like Predator-Free 2050 has been (see last month’s post). Instead, why isn’t the rational case for our support being made? I suspect that the religious and war-like language is indicative of flaws in the policy or its implementation (see my last post) In this post, I reflect on the reputational risk to the wider conservation movement of the Predator Free 2050 policy. Risk management when making policy Ideally, government policy is made using evidence not only for its need but its probable success. Policy risks and costs are explicitly considered and weighed against the benefits. These are, then, communicated honestly with the public to motivate their rational support. Should failures occur, the public is then better prepared. This way their support for future conservation policies (or … Read More

Why is Predator-Free 2050 advocated using the language of religion and war? - Politecol

Feb 01, 2018

The leaders of the Predator-Free movement routinely describe their goal to eradicate rats, stoats and possums from New Zealand by 2050 with religious and militaristic phrases (see Monday’s post). Sir Rob Fenwick (a Director of Predator-Free 2050), for example, described it as a “project born in a leap of faith”, and a “call to arms” by an “army of volunteers” “winning this battle“, with “weapons“. Even the public service (Department of Conservation) has its “War on Weeds” and “Battle for our Birds“. Source: predatorfreenz.org Motivating us not to think Government and populist movements use religious and war-like rhetoric to motivate support when their task is impossible, irrational or not in the wider interest. They are appealing to our hearts, not our heads. They’d prefer that we didn’t think critically about … Read More

Predator Free 2050 – more like a religious war than science-based conservation policy - Politecol

Jan 29, 2018

One of the leaders of the Predator-Free movement, Sir Rob Fenwick (Chair of the Predator Free New Zealand Trust and a Director of Predator-Free 2050), described Predator-Free 2050 as a “project born in a leap of faith” (Dominion Post). He appears to think the predator-free goal is more like a religion than a science-based conservation project. And, his religion is going to war. The religious war against pests Just like a war for his religious belief, Sir Fenwick described his ‘believers’ as “the unsung heroes of this crusade” and an “army of volunteers” and the importance for the future of “helping to attract young people to the campaign.” He goes on: “It’s pretty obvious we won’t win this battle killing rats and stoats one at a time. There are millions of them and … Read More

Predator-free is a “mirage” – John Parkes - Politecol

Jan 08, 2018

Killing predators to reduce their impact is an important part of wildlife conservation in New Zealand. It delivers good outcomes for biodiversity, especially for our birds and reptiles. It does not logically or scientifically follow, however, that attempting to eradicate predators from ALL of New Zealand is also a good idea. Indeed, some scientists think that a national predator-free goal is a very bad idea. Introducing Dr. John Parkes John Parkes has a long pedigree in the science and business of wildlife eradication. He once worked for New Zealand’s government-funded, Landcare Research Ltd. where he developed world-first technologies and strategies for animal control and eradication. He now operates his own consultancy: Kurahaupo Consulting, out of Christchurch. From there, he has made a business of helping other nations successfully eradicate problem wildlife from their islands. When a scientist … Read More

Biodiversity conservation in 2100 - Politecol

Nov 10, 2017

This was the theme of today’s panel-public discussion in Old Government Buildings at Victoria University. It was chaired by Kathryn Ryan – host of Radio New Zealand’s Nine-to-noon. Panelists were asked to provide an opening statement that answered the above questions (text box) and described their position. Here is mine. In 2100 people will be an important and unavoidable parts of all ecosystems. We will be routinely genetically modifying old biodiversity, breeding new species and designing and constructing new ecosystems. We will be doing that on this planet and starting to do it on moons and other planets too. Farmers, doctors and conservationists, to name a few, will be doing this to manage a global environment that is different and changing. The earth’s ecosystems and their biodiversity will be changed at all scales – from their … Read More

We can do better than Predator Free 2050 - Politecol

May 09, 2017

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 they support greater numbers of our less vulnerable … Read More

Predator Free 2050 is scientifically flawed - Politecol

May 09, 2017

Predator Free 2050 is good politics but it is scientifically flawed. It can’t be done. Predator-free 2050 was described as a “moon shot” but, actually, its an Andromeda Galaxy shot – unattainable. New Zealand’s, and the world’s, leading experts in animal eradication have already concluded that it is not possible to eradicate introduced mammalian predators from New Zealand. That consensus of expert opinion has been ignored. PF2050 and the Department of Conservation (DOC) guiding it are under resourced. Its estimated cost is $32 billion but just a thousandth of that number has been set aside ($26 million). The success of PF 2050 rests entirely on complicated solutions that are largely unknown, undeveloped and untested, like the genetic manipulation of wildlife. Those solutions have enormous technical and biological uncertainties to their use. The chances of actually being able to … Read More

A better conservation science sector is critical… … of itself - Politecol

Mar 11, 2017

My latest critique of conservation in New Zealand received a largely positive response, especially from others who think empathy with wildlife an important ethic. It was a busy week and so, unfortunately, I haven’t yet responded to all who telephoned and wrote. But the article also received some negative comments, especially from people who identify themselves as conservationist or conservation scientists. Australian brushtail possum. Source: Victoria University of Wellington This has also been true for some of my other recent weblog posts and newspaper articles. Particularly disliked were my articles debating the introduction of kaka to Wellington City, or Predator-free 2050. Conservationists appear particularly unsettled when policy and practice is critiqued by a fellow conservationist. Amongst the thoughtful and interesting comments, thank you, were also many in which accused me of writing “nonsense … Read More

Conservation’s horizon in New Zea la-la land - Politecol

Jan 30, 2017

Designing ecosystems, reconciliation ecology for conservation The theme for the influential Ecological Society of America’s annual conference last year was “Novel Ecosystems in the Anthropocene”. A novel ecosystem is a human-made habitat and community of plants and animals. Novel ecosystems can be planned, accidental, or caused by poor environmental management that cannot be undone. And Anthropocene describes the current geological age when we, people, are the most significant influence on the planet. They are both de rigueur right now. Late last year the first issue of Anthropocene: innovation in the human age, arrived in my mailbox. Once titled Conservation Science, it now “explore[s] how we create a sustainable human age we actually want to live in”. Anthropocene features novel ecosystems and “inventing, establishing and maintaining new habitats to conserve species diversity in places dominated and impacted by people”. This is Reconciliation Ecology as first … Read More

Are Kiwi academics less engaged in govt policy-making? - Politecol

Jul 14, 2016

The Chief Science Advisor to the New Zealand Prime Minister thinks New Zealand’s university academics are less engaged in policy-making by government than those in other countries. Source of image: The Guardian Perhaps it was an unplanned, throw-away, line in Sir Peter Gluckman’s wide-ranging presentation for the Science & Society Series at Victoria University today (13 July), but it grabbed my attention. Peter gave only cursory explanations for his belief, like academics not asking policy-relevant questions etc., but none were developed arguments or evidential. His belief, however, is important – partly because he holds it, but especially if it is true. Is it true? I don’t know. But let us assume it is. Why might it be so? Since the mid-1980s, neo-liberal government policies have radically changed the functioning of universities and their relationships with government and their communities. Essentially, … Read More