Island Eradication Think Tank on Tiritiri Matangi

by John Ogden

Members of the GBI Environmental Trust, with DOC and the international group “Island Conservation” on a recent visit to Tiritiri Matangi (18 August 2013) to discuss pest eradication on the few remaining rat-infested Gulf Islands, including Great Barrier.

The meeting of trustees, DOC employees and Island Conservation on Tiritiri Matangi Island in August was hosted and organised by DOC. You might recognise your trustees John Ogden (near centre) and Liz Westbrooke (right). In addition the photo includes Richard Griffiths (Who managed the Rangitoto/Motutapu pest eradication); Sean Goddard (Auckland Conservator); Liz Maire (Community Relations Programme Manager, DOC Warkworth); Geof Woodhouse (DOC, GBI); Jack Craw (Biosecurity, Auckland Council); Peter McLelland (Manager of Lord Howe Island rat eradication project); Bill Waldman (CEO Island Conservation) and other members of that group. This group, including some of the most experienced people involved in pest eradication worldwide, were made fully aware of the opportunity to hugely improve the biodiversity of Great Barrier if rodents could be eradicated. They agreed with trustees on the need for community consultation and support at all stages if this is to be achieved.

This was a very positive meeting, with many new breakthroughs in rat-trapping technology and specific toxin delivery systems being discussed. Emphasis was on reducing potential damage to the environment and maximizing the economic benefits from biodiversity enhancement. This latter is particularly evident on Tiritiri, which has a regular programme of walks led by volunteer rangers, and attracts thousands of visitors every year. Rats were eliminated from the island by an aerial drop of brodifacoum in 1993, and after that thousands of trees were planted by volunteers and many native bird species re-introduced.

Tiritiri Matangi is now a showcase of our native birds, and internationally acclaimed as a conservation success story. The little shop and café do a roaring trade too! (see: Rimmer, A. 2004. Tiritiri Matangi: A Model of Conservation. Tandem Press. Pp 125. )