I keep hearing people slamming the Greens for their allegedly evil stance on 1080, so why don’t we look at what their actual policy says. This was updated in June 2017, so is very recent. I suggest for people who are really interested to read the whole Conservation Policy, because what I am about to quote is better understood in the context of that. However even looking at the bullet points is useful to get a general sense of where the Greens stand.
The full Conservation Policy can be found at the bottom of this GP website page. I’m pulling out the bits most relevant to predator control for the purposes of native species preservation.
Specific Policy Points
Protect Threatened Indigenous Species
Reduce Pest Threats to Biodiversity
From the full policy,
7. Reducing Pest Threats to Biodiversity
A. Pest Management Strategies
The Green Party vision is for thriving biodiversity, no further extinctions, and restoration of healthy populations, habitats and ecosystems. In order to achieve this, the Green Party seeks to eradicate pest plants and animals that threaten signicant ecological values wherever possible, and to control them where eradication is not possible.
B. Use of Poisons in Animal Pest Control
Currently animal pest control in Aotearoa New Zealand involves the extensive use of poisons in ground and aerial operations because they are generally cost effective means of controlling animal pest species. Modern technology allows more precise distribution of aerial poison such as 1080 than in the past, and the amount of poison per hectare has been reduced while still maintaining effectiveness.
However, the use of poisons on a large scale, particularly near people’s homes, poses ecological risks and raises community concerns. The Green Party Environment policy aims to minimise the use of all persistent, environmentally damaging, or non-sustainably produced poisons, especially when using aerial distribution, and we strongly support research and promotion of other pest control methods. 1080 poison is widely used to control pest species as it degrades relatively rapidly and is not bio-accumulative. Nonetheless it is acutely toxic to a number of non-target animals including dogs and native wildlife, is considered inhumane by many, and there may be as yet undiscovered long-term toxicological effects arising from its widespread use.
The Green Party aspires to see indigenous biodiversity and farm animal health maintained and enhanced, and eradication and control of pest animals achieved with minimal use of poisons, and without the use of genetically modifed organisms. We recognise that currently it is not feasible to stop all use of poisons for animal pest control without unacceptable adverse impacts on biodiversity and forest health. However, we believe that current and developing integrated ground control methods offer opportunities, and that increased research and development will extend alternatives to aerial 1080 over time that are both affordable and effective.
To me that’s pretty clear. The Greens support both control of predators to maximise survival of native species (in the context of other actions e.g. ecosystem preservation and restoration), and they want that control to be done humanely and with regard for the potential negative impact of poisons i.e. where possible don’t poison. This is a position that sits between green values (poisons are problematic) and conservation values (endangered species won’t survive if we don’t act urgently).
They also understand that in some cases eradication isn’t possible. Given that National’s Predator-free by 2050
wiley bribe plan was announced a year ago, I think that’s a pretty plain signal from the Greens that they don’t believe National’s plan is achievable (which is what most people who aren’t caught up in the spin understand).
The thing that stands out for me is the length of the section on 1080 and poison. This is a position thoughtfully conceived, taking into account a range of views, and needs within the environment. They’ve taken trouble to explain the position in detail.
I disagree with their statement that poison use is decreasing, but other than that I think their positioning is sound and the best compromise between saving native fauna and not doing so at the expense of the environment or animal welfare.
I don’t believe that it’s possible to eradicate all predators in NZ, and have increasing concerns about the ideological stances that are being taken without thought for the realities on the ground. I also don’t think we should be using 1080 willy nilly until science gives us some mythical new tech to wipe out all the possums, rats, stoats, weasels, mice, cats, hedgehogs, magpies, and so on. From an ecological position we need to use the least impactful processes possible, and from a sustainability position we need to create predator control systems that will last over time.
The thing that bothers me most is the increasing polarisation between the nativists and the anti-poison people. There’s lots of room in between. For instance I’d love to see discussion about the non-poison methods that NZ could be developing and putting in place, particularly in the context of other needs like regional development and employment. The easiest way to get 1080 use lessened is to create viable alternatives.
Moderator note: 1080 and predator control is a controversial topic, please bear in mind that while robust debate is encouraged, there is also a requirement to not make the conversation anti-social.