Rat eradication for Palmerston

An eradication program to eliminate rats from the island of Palmerston to safeguard livelihoods and natural ecosystems is currently undergoing planning.

This program is conducted through a partnership between the National Environment Service, New Zealand Department of Conservation (NZDOC) and the Palmerston Island Council and community. Other key stakeholders include the Ministry of Agriculture and Te Ipukarea Society. 

Dr Souad Boudjelas and Veronika Frank from NZDOC were in Rarotonga from 11–15 2022 July to gather information for a feasibility study for the rat eradication program, meeting with key stakeholders throughout the week. 

A vital element to ensure the success of the eradication program is a Biosecurity Plan to prevent and monitor the movement of pests such as rats. NES will work with the Ministry of Agriculture’s Biosecurity team and NZDOC to establish such a plan for Palmerston and the islands in the Northern Group. One of the outcomes of the many meetings was the formation of a working group to facilitate the eradication program, as well as the development of the Biosecurity Plan. 

“The program is a collaborative effort to make sure that we do it once and do it right,” says Veronika Frank, NZDOC. 

The rat eradication program is planned for July 2023 and has been made possible by funding through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, under the Managing Invasive Species for Climate Change Adaptation in the Pacific (MISCCAP) program.

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The National Environment Service is established to protect, conserve and ensure the Cook Islands environment is managed sustainably. The agency is headed by a Director with delegated powers to carry out the functions of the Environment Act 2003.

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