Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Back to the mainland. What are the next challenges for New Zealand after successful efforts to eradicate aliens on its seabird islands?

James Russell (School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand) and colleagues have published open-access in the journal BioScience on what should be future directions following the successful eradication of invasive species on New Zealand islands.  The authors suggest commencing with an eradication exercise on 27 761-ha Aotea/Great Barrier Island before moving to the New Zealand mainland.  The inhabited island supports Norway or Brown Rats Rattus norvegicus, Pacific Rats R. exulans, feral Domestic Cats Felis catus and feral pigs Sus scrofa.  Their eradication would help the island’s population of ACAP-listed and Vulnerable Black Petrels Procellaria parkinsoni.

“With the right tools and social investment, history has shown what transformations can be achieved.  We would be foolish not to imagine what can be achieved 50 years from now.”

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Eradications of invasive species from over 1000 small islands around the world have created conservation arks, but to truly address the threat of invasive species to islands, eradications must be scaled by orders of magnitude.  New Zealand has eradicated invasive predators from 10% of its offshore island area and now proposes a vision to eliminate them from the entire country.  We review current knowledge of invasive predator ecology and control technologies in New Zealand and the biological research, technological advances, social capacity and enabling policy required.  We discuss the economic costs and benefits and conclude with a 50-year strategy for a predator-free New Zealand that is shown to be ecologically obtainable, socially desirable, and economically viable.  The proposal includes invasive predator eradication from the two largest offshore islands, mammal-free mainland peninsulas, very large ecosanctuaries, plus thousands of small projects that will together merge eradication and control concepts on landscape scales.”


Black Petrels, photograph by Biz Bell

Read a post by its senior author on the publication here.


Russell, J.C., Innes, J.G., Brown, P.H. & Byrom, A.E. 2015.  Predator-free New Zealand: conservation country.  BioScience 65: 520-525.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 30 April 2015