Great Barrier Island Environmental News
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EDITORIAL:
Great Barrier Island Charitable Trust Here to Stay

 

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 the future.

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.

Kia Kaha
From the Trustees.