The Southern Lakes Sanctuary project uses international best practice for systematic planning, implementation and monitoring of project activities, including the first use in NZ of the Protected Landscape approach and the state-of-the-art Conservation Standards adaptive management planning tool, while pushing the boundaries of current eradication practice in New Zealand.
The technical aspects of the project are based on an independent analysis (Wildlands 2020) with further refinement after input from consultants (Edge Effects 2020) and technical discussions with Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP).
The initial independent analysis recommended a core-buffer-corridor model of landscape-scale predator control, where core areas are intensively trapped and buffered, and corridors established between these core areas. As we move beyond the current suppression model towards a focus on eradication, we will further develop a phased eradication programme that guides our work within the complex landscape of our Project. Management Hubs and the eradication framework are summarised below.
Figure 1: The Southern Lakes Sanctuary showing the Hubs (blue lines). Eradication sites will be finalised after further analysis and planning. The darker-green shading shows Public Conservation Land administered by DOC and yellow shading shows Fiordland National Park, with remaining areas under various forms of tenure.
Identify management units (Hubs)
Through a robust process identify ‘Hubs’ that are logical geographic management units that are adjoining and cover the entire project area.
- Prioritise Hubs for protection and eradication
Based on eradication potential, biodiversity values, ecosystems, habitats and other explicit criteria, identify and prioritise Hubs and sites within them for the eradication of predators.
- Protect and grow populations of species in Hubs
To ensure threatened and at-risk species persist until such time as eradication is feasible, protect and grow populations of those species within priority Hubs.
- Eradicate predators from priority sites
Beginning in the most defendable part of a selected Hub, eradicate predators at that foundation site and then stepwise expand eradication across the landscape.
- Conduct eradication research
Invest in eradication research and partnerships to find innovative solutions that enable eradication of predators across the entire project area.
1. Identify management units (Hubs)
The project area has been divided into eight geographic management units (called ‘Hubs’) (Fig. 1). There are currently seven operational Hubs (Makarora, Matukituki, Motutapu, Cardrona, Dart-Rees, Queenstown-Arrowtown, Wānaka-Hāwea; Fig. 1) based on current trapping efforts, and collectively representing a broad cross-section of habitat types. To these existing Hubs an additional Hub (Richardson Mts) has been designated to cover the entire project area (Fig. 1; Box 1).
2. Prioritise Hubs for protection and eradication
Based on eradication potential and feasibility, biodiversity values, ecosystems, habitats and other explicit criteria, the project will prioritise Hubs and sites within them for protection and eradication of predators.
3. Protect and grow populations of threatened and at-risk species in Hubs
The project will ensure that threatened and at-risk species persist across the landscape through suppression of predators, until such time as eradication is feasible. The SLS project will protect and grow populations of threatened and at-risk species within Hubs, and predators will be eradicated in later phases of the project.
4. Eradicate predators from priority sites in a stepwise fashion
Concurrent with the broader suppression program, the project will begin to eradicate predators from priority sites and then progressively expand from these sites across the entire landscape.
5. Conduct eradication research
To achieve the SLS goal of a predator free landscape, where current methods cannot eradicate predators from sites, SLS will invest in technical partnerships that develop and then deliver the means to eradicate predators and provide opportunities for innovation and learning.