Editorial - 2011: Planning the New Environment for Great Barrier
from the Trustees

The Great Barrier Island Charitable Trust’s 2010 State of the Environment Report (SOER) is nearly a year old (see: www.gbict.co.nz). It is the most comprehensive account of the Island’s natural biota and land environment, and of the past and current human pressures on these.

In keeping with the breadth of the SOER, and the Trust’s mission statement, we are asking the Local Board to examine the many ways in which the community can support improving environmental quality and biodiversity on the Island in 2011. Few other issues have been as hotly debated as the idea of pest eradication. The community deserves now to be involved in a comprehensive and wide ranging consultation process to explore the various options of pest eradication, pest management, and biosecurity. These are not ends in themselves, they are stepping-stones to halting the declines in biodiversity and allowing the reintroduction of lost bird species such as the kokako. We believe that environment and bio-diversity are important factors in the Island’s future economic development, and that this emphasis will sit well with the priorities of the new Local Board as they are agreed.

The new Local Board has the task of producing a Strategic Plan, which will describe the local community’s aspirations and their preferences and priorities for the next three years and beyond. The ‘beyond’ is because Auckland Council is preparing a 10-year plan (2012-2022) and the Great Barrier Strategic Plan is intended to influence that. The Local Board will, presumably, hold public meetings and call for submissions on the plan. The first stage – the Great Barrier Local Board Agreement – has already been published and includes a commitment to ‘undertake a consultation exercise on pest management and eradication’. We welcome this, and we believe that it must be done properly and independently. The Local Board has a role of ‘Advocacy to Auckland Council’ and under this role it can legitimately seek professional advice on how to ‘improve bio-security and pest management responses and programmes’. We believe there is a ground-swell of support in the Great Barrier community for more comprehensive pest management, even possibly total eradication, and that every person in the community needs to be consulted about their thinking on this and related issues. Meanwhile, let’s see what support we can get for smaller scale local initiatives to improve biodiversity and environmental quality. And, let’s keep asking the Dept. of Conservation what they are doing in this area too!

We welcome Emmy Pratt, Wayne Anderson, Peter Edmonds and Kate Waterhouse as new Trustees. We will ‘profile’ them in our next issue. Our membership continues to grow (now at c. 160) which reflects growing support for our vision and activities. For example over 90 Barrierites have participated in kaka counts since 2007. However, when it comes to maintaining an island lifestyle and a quality environment, numbers are important. So if you support our stance, please fill out a form and join us, or you can do so by visiting our website www.gbict.co.nz or phoning Fenella on 4290414.