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Cape to City's rural landholder survey 2020

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When Cape to City first started in 2015, 68 landholders were surveyed in and around the Cape to City project area to examine perspectives towards the proposed coordinated control efforts. This initial work was critical to understanding the factors that motivate, or conversely prevent, participation in widespread predator control programmes.

This survey found that the majority (87%) of surveyed landholders were supportive of control efforts because of benefits to native biodiversity and economic benefits from reduction in toxoplasmosis from control of feral cats. These results were important to identify the wider benefits such as the return of native species that result from predator control on rural properties to the whole community, and thus funding such endeavours.

In 2020, we talked to landholders again through an online survey and interviews exploring landholders’ perceptions after five years of predator control on their land. Key findings were that:

  1. Conservation and predator control are important and are often linked with values including the uniqueness of NZ’s wildlife and the responsibility landholders have to following generations.
  2. The cost of taking action prevents some landholders from taking action.
  3. There is a clear understanding of the collective benefit of predator control, and personal motivation is key for taking action.
  4. Landholders believe that key agencies like the Regional Council need to be doing more to support landholders in predator control activities and for more communication, engagement and education.
  5. There’s a need to work smarter, not harder. Priorities must be set in terms of which predator species to reduce, and to identify what the ecological consequences of doing so would be (e.g. the potential flourishing of rabbits). 

The summary report of the 2015 survey called for greater communication with landholders. The present 2020 survey findings reinforce this recommendation while acknowledging limitations. With this in mind and given the current efforts to communicate with landholders, some additional thought is required about alternative pathways to inform landholders of ongoing work, success stories and to engage with them.

Perceptions that predator control is ongoing, successful and participated in by peers and key agencies is likely to lead others to participate and create a cycle of increased participation, followed by increased success in predator control efforts.

Future focus based on survey:

  • Improve communication about predator control initiatives, in particular about the impact of predator control efforts
  • Improve the monitoring and maintenance of predator control equipment
  • Adopt a more collaborative approach that recognises the expertise and local knowledge of landholders in making decisions about predator control measures
  • Continue to explore and better understand landholders’ motivations so that actions and communication can be targeted
  • Promoting the efficacy of predator control and educating the public about the effects of predators on the unique flora and fauna of Aotearoa

McKelvie-Sebileau, P. 2020; Landholder perceptions of predator control in the Cape to City region: results from the rural survey 

22 January 2021

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