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Forest & Bird is welcoming the $256 million to be spent over four years to kick start the process of large-scale native forest restoration but warned it would only be as successful as the pest control that supports it.

“Native forest restoration is a big winner in Budget 2022 – but needs to go hand in hand with pest control to support it, otherwise we’re just putting on a free lunch for deer and goats,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Nicola Toki.

The Government is intending to spend $145 million on native forest replanting and restoration, a further $111 million on research into carbon storage in native forests, as well as an increase in baseline predator control from 450,000 ha to 600,000 ha and a further $30 million in deer and goat control over the next four years.

“Seven million a year more in deer and goat control is a start, but will need to be greatly expanded if the country’s climate change and biodiversity goals are to be achieved. There’s little point in attempting large-scale forest restoration projects if deer and goats invade from neighbouring conservation land to eat newly planted trees,” says Ms Toki.

“Forest & Bird’s Napier Branch recently had to fundraise to fence deer out of a reserve because of out-of-control deer numbers in the region. In our Southland Lenz Reserve, Forest & Bird has to employ hunters to control deer that keep reinvading from conservation land.

“We’re pleased to see an increase in baseline aerial 1080 predator control from 450,000 ha to 600,000 ha, which Forest & Bird has worked hard to influence. Over time we want to see this increase grow to 1 million ha. We know that when our native species are protected from introduced predators, they can thrive, and that without, we risk losing them forever, like the 62 bird species we’ve lost since humans arrived in Aotearoa,” says Ms Toki. 

“We can’t call ourselves Kiwis to the rest of the world, when we risk their extinction in places where there is no pest control. Most people are probably not aware that without pest control, 19 of 20 kiwi chicks do not survive past one year of age. Most of them are killed by predators.

“Forest & Bird lost 16 out of 21 almost fully fledged tītī from one of our reserves this month to a single ferret, despite all of our trapping efforts by staff and volunteers. This sadly proves that while communities can hold the line, it’s the large scale pest control that makes a difference to whether or not our native wildlife can survive and thrive.”

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