Auckland Island, the fifth largest island in New Zealand, is the only island in New Zealand’s subantarctic region where introduced mammalian pests remain (pigs, Sus scrofa; mice, Mus musculus; cats, Felis catus). The island has unique biodiversity and is a key site for progressing New Zealand’s goal to be free of several introduced predators by 2050. Recent island eradication successes have rekindled interest in eradicating pests from Auckland Island, and for the first time considering all three pests in one project.
Cattle (Bos taurus) were introduced to 11 268 ha Campbell Island/Motu Ihupuku in 1902 as part of a short-lived farming venture that was abandoned by 1931. The cattle were left to fend for themselves and a small feral population of 10–20 animals persisted for 53 years. The population was largely limited to a small area (c. 440 ha) of the island noted for its limestone geology. Ecological damage was pronounced with churning of the soil, damage to vegetation and probable impact on seabird nesting.
New Zealand manages five island groups in the Southern Ocean New Zealand subantarctic region: The Snares (Tini Heke), Bounty Islands, Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands (Motu Maha or Maungahuka) and Campbell Island / Motu Ihupuku. Charted by Europeans in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, their preservation commenced in the early 20th century and restoration in the late 20th century.
Biodiversity conservation in Aotearoa New Zealand is of high importance, and efforts to protect vulnerable populations from decline has garnered broad public support. Conservation efforts have been further highlighted with the 2016 announcement of Predator Free 2050, a nationwide goal to eliminate key invasive mammalian predators from New Zealand by the year 2050. Hands-on labour is often needed to complete conservation initiatives, and New Zealand conservation volunteers have shown themselves to be an abundant, effective, and oft-used workforce.
The Westland petrel (Procellaria westlandica) is a 1200 g medium-sized seabird whose breeding colonies are dispersed across 700 ha of forest on the western coast of South Island, New Zealand. These birds represent the sole landscape-scale lowland remnant of formerly widespread petrel and shearwater colonies in mainland New Zealand and provide an opportunity to investigate maritime species’ impact on terrestrial ecosystems characteristic of pre-human New Zealand.
Globally, translocations of herpetofauna have been notoriously unsuccessful. Most previous translocations of green geckos (Naultinus spp.) have failed to result in population establishment. However, recent penned releases of jewelled geckos (moko kākāriki; Naultinus gemmeus) have led to increased site fidelity, reduced dispersal, reduced home range sizes, and reduced minimum daily movements, facilitating population establishment.
Relying solely on public conservation lands for habitat provision will be inadequate for achieving national conservation goals. Production landscapes in New Zealand make up 60% of the land area and contain potential conservation habitat; however, the amount of native vegetation they contain is poorly known. While there have been previous assessments of native vegetation cover in New Zealand, no study has undertaken a national-scale assessment of multiple native vegetation cover types on different land uses. This absence limits the potential to manage production landscapes for conservation.
In the past few years genetic technologies springing from advances in DNA sequencing (so-called high-throughput sequencing), and/or from CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing, have been proposed as being useful in bioheritage research. The potential scope for the use of these genetic technologies in bioheritage is vast, including enabling the recovery of threatened species, engineering proxies of extinct species and genetically controlling pests.
The New Zealand Department of Conservation is responsible for biodiversity management over approximately one-third of New Zealand’s land area and a network of marine protected areas; it also has a more general role in managing protected species and biodiversity advocacy. In 2004 the Department of Conservation began the development of a national natural heritage monitoring framework known as the New Zealand Biodiversity Assessment Framework, which has been operational since 2011.
Pastoral farming is the dominant land use in New Zealand today and is under considerable domestic social and political pressure to reduce its environmental footprint. In this article, we explore options to enhance native biodiversity conservation within New Zealand pastoral systems. We argue that there is strong synergistic interdependence between biodiversity conservation and pastoral farming and suggest that it is possible to have win-win outcomes for both.