Biosecurity between two islands key focus

Biosecurity between Stewart Island and the South Island would be a challenge in the future of the Predator Free Rakiura project.

THE next steps towards a predator-free Rakiura are being taken, with a trust to lead the project being formed.

Predator Free Rakiura formally invited Environment Southland (ES) to hold a board position with voting rights on the soon-to-be established Te Puka Rakiura Trust.

The trust is being established as the legal entity for Predator Free Rakiura.

From there, the existing leadership group will be reassigned to become an Engagement and Advisory Group, which will act as a conduit between the community and the trust.

ES councillors spoke about their role on both the group and trust going forward.

Cr Eric Roy asked what the expectation of being on the trust would mean.

The former member of parliament told fellow councillors he had a long-term interest in the island becoming predator free.

As such, he expressed interest in the position.

ES chairman Nicol Horrell said it was a conversation for another day, while chief executive Rob Phillips explained the key part of ES’s contribution was its expertise and experience with pest management and biodiversity. “A key thing is that biosecurity between the island and the mainland.”

Once it was clear, how would they keep it clear?, he asked.

Obligations to the trust would be discussed with the council.

There would be five trustees in total.

Department of Conservation (Doc) partnerships manager and Rakiura acting operations manager Phil Tisch works to support the project and previously told the Southland Express planning and research would be undertaken during the next three to five years to work out how to rid the island of feral cats, possums, hedgehogs and rats.

Plan development could cost between $2 million and $5 million, and involve contracting experts and completing trials.

Putting the plan into practice, however, was estimated to cost between $50 million and $100 million.

Doc had contributed $1 million to the establishment of Predator Free Rakiura, and had committed to funding the project for up to five years.