New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands - 2008

After having been used as farmland, gold and quartz mining venues, and a reservoir created by the construction of two different dams, the Sanctuary Valley as the site has been called for 100+ years was determined to be a perfect setting for a cityside wildlife preserve. A group of citizens petitioned the local government and the national government for the rights to purchase the 1 square mile of property and won acceptance from both. A survey of Wellington’s local citizenry in 1990 revealed 90% support for the preserve. The Trust formed to purchase the land raised the necessary money and the land was transferred to the Trust in 1995. The Trust opened to visitors during that year so that people could visit and understand what was being proposed. There is an ambitious 500-year vision that guides the Sanctuary’s development and management—that vision started in 1995 and states that it will require 500 years of regrowth to bring the land back to its condition prior to the arrival of Europeans. Of course the new life envisioned for the area requires that all non-native plants and creatures be removed permanently from the area. Original species of birds, animals and plants which have been lost to the area after 700 years of human intrusion must be reintroduced and nurtured to self- sustaining populations. The first and most expensive endeavor, after the land acquisition, was the building of the predator proof fence around the entire valley a 5.5-mile long structure completed in l998. At that time, the Trust scientists declared the area predator-free except for mice. Much research was required in the design of the fence. It had to be able to repel cats, dogs, ferrets, possums, rats, and all other mammalian predators completely! This meant scientists and observers needed to determine how high a cat could climb, how deep a dog or ferret could dig, how small a space a rat could enter. All this work was done and the fence designed appropriately. Since the original fence construction even mice have been eradicated. Now the fence must be regularly maintained to insure that it is intact. Ongoing monitoring must be conducted to detect any penetration of the fence by any of the said predators. Constant vigilance is the price of successful restoration!

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