There will be many people who receive and read this newsletter who will
be unaware of the local politics surrounding the vision of the GBIC
Trust. Some may have seen the recent Close-Up item on the TV, and may
still be wondering why the opponents of the Trust are so vehemently
opposed to rat and feral cat eradication. Over the last six months a
small group of people, including members of the community board, have
misinformed the public by distorting the Trust’s vision. To re-state:
that vision is to eradicate rats and feral cats, to reintroduce birds
lost to the island, and to work towards building an eco-based
sustainable economy for Great Barrier.
The Trust is very clear that it has been engaged in the business of
research and information transfer: researching the ecological, social
and economic costs and benefits related to our ambitious vision, and
informing the community of its findings in this newsletter, other
publications, and at meetings. We know we have considerable support to
eradicate rats and feral cats; what we are finding out about is how this
could be done. We have at no time promoted any method for a
decision—that decision can only be made by an informed community and all
the local authorities involved on the island. The Trust is years away
from putting any option forward for the community and relevant
organisations to consider.
We have not proposed aerial baiting for rats over the whole island,
simply informed people that this is the current method used by the
Department of Conservation to eradicate rats from uninhabited islands.
This method may or may not be appropriate for parts of Great Barrier
Island. Nor has the Trust proposed ‘quarantine’ for seagoing vessels, it
has put forward a range of biosecurity measures that would need to be
considered if the island became rat free.
Even our World Heritage Site presentation to Auckland City Council
carried no recommendations—just an idea for the council to consider. It
will rightfully be Council’s job to consult with the community about
what this involves should they wish to take the idea further. The
Community Board has pre-empted that consultation with the community by
stating that it does not want it. Elsewhere many communities have
eagerly sought such status.
It is essential that a viable and sustainable economy be created on
Great Barrier. Over the last decade we have lost 25% of our population.
As school roles decline, the money coming onto the island from the
Conservation sector has increased. The Trust considers that the most
sustainable contribution is to “bank” the island’s rare biota and
natural environment. The sway is ‘green’— the thrust of the Auckland
City District Plan is to protect the environment of the island, the
Auckland Regional Council pest management strategy and plans to protect
Barrier are strengthening, and the local Department of Conservation is
expanding. The CRESA report and the support for the GBIC Trust indicate
many islanders also want to protect and enhance their environment. The
Trust is committed to contributing to an island-led future where we are
part of the decision making not just objecting to it.
The trustees re-assure you that the GBI Charitable Trust is
undiminished—it will continue to work on your behalf to explore the
issues and possibilities of eradicating rats and feral cats from this
island. The trustees will continue to find out more through research and
monitoring of our fauna and flora, look into the economics of the
island, and communicate with you through our Enviro-News. New
non-poisonous rodent control technology is already on the horizon, and
new scientific advances seem sure to assist in achieving our vision in
Thank you to the many who have expressed support for the Trust in the
last few months— your membership is valued and your enquiries welcome.
We need to work together to sustain a rich and fascinating environment
for visitors and future generations of islanders.
From the Trustees.