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The making of a predator-free nation

Authors: Brendon Blue*, The University of Auckland
Topics: Environment, Animal Geographies, Australia and New Zealand
Keywords: Pest control, pesticide, science and technology studies, ecological restoration
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In 2016, the New Zealand Government launched a campaign to eliminate introduced possums, rats and mustelids from the entire country by 2050. Originally announced by a centre-right government keen to claim environmental credibility, Predator Free 2050 sets out to marshal a broad set of interests into a national “grass-roots social movement” aiming to create safer spaces for Aotearoa New Zealand’s indigenous fauna. For a country which relies heavily on community-led conservation efforts, this represents an unprecedented shift in the scope and scale of predator control. Funded through a mix of public, private and philanthropic investment, it challenges traditional understandings of where conservation happens and who carries it out. Successful eradication is also highly contingent on anticipated scientific innovation and technological breakthroughs, particularly to address concerns regarding cost, animal welfare and the use of toxins. Drawing on interviews with a diverse set of public advocates, this paper examines how Predator Free 2050 is being negotiated, justified and resisted in order to explore the personal and institutional politics of a nationwide pest eradication programme.

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