“This is a hugely significant goal, and one that the dairy industry shares,” said Carolyn Mortland, Fonterra’s Director of Social Responsibility.
“A predator free New Zealand would have significant benefits for New Zealand’s environment as well as help with animal TB eradication.”
TB and other diseases carried by possums and rats carry a high on-going cost to farmers, as well as to dairy companies investing in pest control for the protection of production facilities.
Mrs Mortland said New Zealand dairy companies are working together on the issue, and have made a $3 million commitment over two years for investment in the Zero Invasive Predators research project. ZIP’s vision is to completely removing rats, stoats and possums from large areas of the mainland, and keep them out.
The funding includes an innovative predator enclosure at Lincoln University that allows trials of new technology to more rapidly take pest-control concepts through to real world solutions.
Research is also underway on lowering the height of predator fences to that of a standard 1.1m farm fence, which has huge potential to exclude rats, possums and stoats from farms and dairy production sites.
“Having the dairy industry contribute funding this type of research is a critical part of being responsible stewards of the land,” said Mrs Mortland. “The ambitious goal set by Government this week gives us real encouragement that these types of programmes will get the ongoing support and partnership that is needed to deliver results.”
“It’s our hope that ZIP will be a key player in helping NZ achieve the Government’s target, and deliver results for both our environment and economy,” she said.
The ZIP investment sits within an overall $16 million per annum investment in pest management from the dairy industry.