This year the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge in New Zealand launches its project on high tech solutions to invasive mammal pests, hosted by the University of Auckland. The high tech solutions project aims to deliver the long-term science solutions which will become a part of Predator Free New Zealand. In July 2016 the New Zealand government officially adopted Predator Free New Zealand and in December appointed the PFNZ2050 board of directors and announced its commitment to the Honolulu Challenge. In 2017 the high tech solutions project will commence researching the science which will eventually be needed to achieve the 2050 target.
The high tech solutions project is one of a number that fall within the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge – one of eleven national science challenges announced by the New Zealand government in May 2013. These challenges were designed to enable institutional cooperation towards addressing pressing problems facing New Zealand where science could play a critical role. Other projects in the Biological Heritage challenge include biological heritage assessment, ecosystem restoration and a myriad of other biosecurity projects. The Biological Heritage challenge will be holding its first annual meeting in May 2017 at the National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa.
The high tech solutions project will enable a number of important research developments. These include investigating genetic tools which could enable additional or replacing pest control techniques, testing novel lures and biosensors for managing invasive mammals, and strategies for optimising Predator Free New Zealand. The project also includes three advisory groups: Nga Matapopere, a bioethics panel, and a small mammal collective. Each of these will provide broader perspectives on cultural, ethical and logistical perspectives on the implementation of novel invasive mammal pest control technologies and strategies. With the countdown ticking for Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 the high tech solutions project intends to get the ball rolling over the next three years to set New Zealand up strongly for achieving the 2025 interim goals.