New Zealand

Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems, such as clean air, fresh water, and the pollination of crops. The aim of this literature review was to find empirical data illustrating the ways in which conservation land and conservation management activities affect ecosystem services. The widely-held belief that natural ecosystems—such as those found on conservation land in New Zealand—provide a range of ecosystem services is generally supported by the literature.

Strangers in Paradise takes us on a discovery journey to identify and learn about various species living on the islands of Hawaii, Solomon Islands, Rarotonga, New Zealand, and Easter Island. In contrast, we also take a look at the impact of human development on such species. The introduction of rats and new predators had devastating effects on these, which prompted research into control measures to address this problem.

Native birds and animals of New Zealand had very few predators. Until the introduction of pests and rats onto New Zealand soils, they were able to roam freely and could be found in great numbers. Nowadays, they are subjected to extinction at an alarming rate. In response, the Department of Conservation sent out a team to eradicate rats through an experiment that proved successful. It was planned that in 1990, the Department of Conservation were to introduce some of the endangered animal species back onto Breaksea Island.

Introduced rats (Rattus spp.) can affect island vegetation structure and ecosystem functioning, both directly and indirectly (through the reduction of seabird populations). The extent to which structure and function of islands where rats have been eradicated will converge on uninvaded islands remains unclear. We compared three groups of islands in New Zealand: islands never invaded by rats, islands with rats, and islands on which rats have been controlled. Differences between island groups in soil and leaf chemistry and leaf production were largely explained by burrow densities.

Eradication of introduced species from inhabited islands requires consideration of both technical and social feasibility. Historically, biologists have struggled to engage successfully in the social components of eradication planning. Island communities have unique features that require consideration in eradication planning. Social impact assessment is a powerful planning tool used widely outside of wildlife management. We outline the core components of a social impact assessment as it could be applied to eradication planning on inhabited islands.

Predators play a critical role in ecosystems; however, when overly abundant, they can disrupt natural processes and cause extinctions of species. In particular, oceanic islands have endured many impacts of introduced mammalian predators. Whereas knowledge and management of introduced mammalian predators on islands is well advanced in natural landscapes, in inhabited landscapes, spanning rural and urban environments, comparatively less is known.