New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2012) 36(2): 232- 238

Role of predator-proof fences in restoring New Zealand’s biodiversity: a response to Scofield et al. (2011)

Forum Article
John Innes 1*
William G. Lee 2,3
Bruce Burns 2
Colin Campbell-Hunt 4
Corinne Watts 1
Hilary Phipps 5
Theo Stephens 6
  1. Landcare Research, Private Bag 3127, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
  2. School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
  3. Landcare Research, Private Bag 1930, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
  4. School of Business, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
  5. School of Environment, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
  6. Department of Conservation, Private Bag 1930, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

Scofield et al. (2011) recently questioned the goals and current achievements of New Zealand pest-fenced sanctuaries. Here we dispute some of their evidence, describe the conservation context and achievements of fenced sanctuaries, and show that pest-fenced projects have distinctive and important roles among the diverse approaches addressing biodiversity restoration in New Zealand. This arises primarily from their ability to achieve zero or near-zero residual abundance of nearly all mammal pests in mainland environments, and to capture public interest and involvement with exceptional advocacy and education opportunities that should benefit all conservation. The key sustainability challenge confronting fenced sanctuaries is little different from that facing other conservation initiatives, namely reducing threats over the long-term to enable indigenous species and ecosystem persistence. We concur with Scofield et al. (2011) that fenced sanctuaries need time and further research to evaluate costs and benefits compared with other approaches.