Predator-free Stewart Is up to residents - Morgan
Stewart Island residents have two weeks to decide if they want to make Stewart Island New Zealand's first predator-free human-inhabited island.
Environmental campaigner Gareth Morgan outlined his vision for the eradication of wild cats, rats and possums on Stewart Island to residents at a community meeting on Tuesday.
Morgan Foundation researcher Geoff Simmons said yesterday the ball was now in the islanders' court. Mr Morgan had his say and if his plan was to succeed it was up to the community to buy into the proposal, Mr Simmons said.
Residents have been given two weeks to vote on whether to support the predator-free concept.
Mr Morgan was unavailable for comment yesterday before departing the south but his tweet after the meeting indicated the islanders wanted to get rid of the pests.
"Big hall meeting on Stewart Island last night. Good debate. But nobody here doesn't want rid of pests. This might just be going to happen!"
However, not all residents were sold on Mr Morgan's ambitious plan. Stewart Island resident and owner and operator of Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience Furhana Ahmad said the methodology was not fully explained.
The plan also favoured aerial poisoning above hand baiting, she said.
Ms Ahmad questioned the health and wellbeing of the community and environment from any poisoning and whether tracks and the island would be shut off to visitors while the poisoning took place.
The increase in tourism that was anticipated from a predator-free Stewart Island would put a strain on the island, she said.
"Mr Morgan said if Stewart Island was predator-free, it would attract 100 times more people than it is doing now. We don't have the infrastructure or ability to cater for 4.5 million visitors."
Wharf extensions, roading, a bigger airstrip, new electricity generation and waste disposal were all things that would need to be considered, she said.
Fellow Stewart Island resident Vicki Coats said she was not sure how she would vote on the proposal.
"There is going to be another community meeting on Saturday and I think a lot of residents will discuss Mr Morgan's plan further," she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Which would you prefer?Related story: Natural burials the way to go
The cost of losing nature