Alex Foulkes, Kaitiaki Consulting’s Managing Director, talks about his work on the world’s largest ecological restoration project, Predator Free New Zealand.
I have spent over a decade of my life working and living in New Zealand and the last few years were spent working with the Department of Conservation in the South Island. I was a Senior Ranger and we covered the amazing Arthur’s Pass National Park and vast areas of the South Island.
During that period, I was lucky enough to work on Predator Free New Zealand as the local PFNZ representative and this was a wonderful experience working on one of the most incredible ecological restoration projects on the planet.
Predator Free 2050 is an incredibly ambitious plan to rid New Zealand of the most damaging introduced predators that threaten New Zealand’s natural taonga, the economy and the primary sector and brings together those who envision a flourishing Aotearoa with abundant native wildlife and forests. Communities, iwi, experts, businesses, government and non-government organisations, and individuals are all working together to achieve it.
Rats, Possums and Stoats and other introduced species have devastated New Zealand’s unique endemic wildlife that has evolved for over 80 million years in isolation and the New Zealand government and many New Zealanders are working to eradicate these species across the whole country.
New Zealand conservationists utilise the most innovate techniques to save these species and have a ground trapping network set over hundreds of thousands of hectares managed by the Department of Conservation, councils, and volunteer conservation groups. This is backed up by huge aerial baiting from helicopters to target these invasive species using a vast grid pattern over New Zealand’s forest and wild areas.
One of these species that PF2050 is aiming to protect in the rare orange-fronted parakeet (kākāriki karaka) and while a Senior Ranger with DOC we worked with the New Zealand Rugby legend, Richie McCaw who was an ambassador for this species to help protect this species. Richie like the orange-fronted parakeet are Cantabrians and I organised an event where Richie flew a helicopter into Addington Raceway to highlight the plight of the parakeet before speaking to hundreds of people that had turned up and we were gained great publicity for the cause of the species.
New Zealanders are determined to protect their unique species and we will work with them to do this. Kaitiaki Consulting was set up and we were inspired by the Kiwis who were involved in this fight and we are determined to bring this passion to the United Kingdom where our biota is equally threatened and no less important.