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Predator Free Dunedin’s vision of a pest-free city has received a major boost after it secured a $7 million funding injection to allow the conservation collective to expand its area of operations.
‘‘This is great,’’ Predator Free Dunedin (PFD) project manager Rhys Millar said.
‘‘The funding will allow us to link up significant parts of the landscape and accelerate predator control,’’ he said.
Predator Free 2050 Ltd, the Crown-owned company established to deliver on the Government’s goal of eliminating stoats, rats and possums by 2050, committed $4 million of the funding.
Additional support came from Wenita Forest Products, City Forests and A A W Jones Charitable Trust.
The funding has been secured and will be paid in regular installments until 2025.
The new funding would extend possum and mustelid eradication over an additional 37,500ha, more than doubling PFD’s current area of operations, Mr Millar said.
More specifically, possum control would embrace an additional 33,000ha in an area that included the Silver Peaks in the west.
Possums would also be targeted on over 10,000ha in West Harbour and Mount Cargill, and in those areas they would be controlled to zero density, which meant they would not be able to reproduce.
On the Otago Peninsula to the east, PFD aimed to eradicate possums by mid-2023 and then focus on mustelids, with the aim of eliminating stoats by 2025.
Mr Millar said eliminating animal predators would also help native flora thrive.
‘‘Our forests will thrive without predators.’’
PFD is a collective of 22 organisations which aims to rid Dunedin’s urban and rural areas of possums, rats and stoats. Its services are delivered by three operations: the Halo Predator Free Project, delivered by the Landscape Connections Trust; Predator Free Peninsula, delivered by the Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group; and City Sanctuary, delivered by the Dunedin City Council.