Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) Ltd is an innovative partnership between NEXT Foundation, the Department of Conservation and philanthropists Gareth Morgan and Sam Morgan to dramatically transform the way invasive predators are managed on mainland New Zealand.
The vision is ambitious – to ensure the long-term resilience of New Zealand’s biodiversity by completely removing rats, stoats and possums from large areas of the mainland, and keeping them out.
These invasive predators cause the majority of damage to New Zealand’s native biodiversity, killing an estimated 25 million native birds each year. Department of Conservation projections show that if we don’t come up with better ways to remove these predators, then even the iconic Kiwi could face extinction on the mainland within our grandchildren’s lifetime.
ZIP strives to be the difference and halt the decline in our native species.
“We’ll be casting our net far and wide for ground breaking predator management technologies to enhance our system,” says ZIP’s CEO Al Bramley. “We intend to work alongside researchers and engineers to develop the complete set of tools to tackle these invasive predators and rid them from large scale areas on the mainland.”
“We will look at things like novel traps or toxins, long-life lures, and automated monitoring. We will also explore using our existing predator control tools but in different ways, to get the most out of the technologies we already have.”
ZIP builds on the work that the Department of Conservation already does to refine and enhance predator control tools and techniques. It is anticipated the venture will attract other funders and researchers.
“NEXT Foundation and the Department of Conservation together with co-investors Sam Morgan and the Morgan Foundation have presented us with the opportunity to really focus on this particular challenge in predator management, and gives the added impetus needed to make a bigger difference for our native species,” Bramley says.
New Zealand is a world leader in clearing invasive predators from land areas, but faces a constant battle from reinvasion, especially on the mainland.
“Keeping the predator out is the biggest challenge,” Bramley says. “ZIP will focus on technologies and methodologies of detecting invaders early and removing them again before they re-establish.”
While a work plan is yet to be finalised, ZIP is likely to begin with land areas such as large peninsulas. This is due to their shape making them relatively easier to defend, once predators are removed. A development site has already been established at Bottle Rock Peninsula, in the Marlborough Sounds, where current predator control methods can be assessed and new tools developed and tested.
ZIP is being set up under an independent corporate trustee structure, to give the flexibility and agility required to be responsive to new ideas and developments. All returns on investment in ZIP will be put back into maximising gains for conservation.
Bramley says it is an ambitious long term plan, but there’s no reason why we can’t achieve it. “People used to say we’d never get rid of rats from islands. Now we do it all the time. We are ready for the challenge.”
Taxpayers, local authorities, community groups, and private landowners spend tens of millions of dollars every year on predator control. ZIP’s work aims to make advances in developing the technology that delivers enduring returns for both conservation and the economy.