Nicholas Kirk1, Robyn Kannemeyer1, Alison Greenaway1, Dean Stronge1
1Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research
New Zealanders value nature for diverse reasons and this affects their perception of technologies which eradicate predator species to protect native species. Predator Free New Zealand is an ambitious project which aims to restore and protect New Zealand’s native wildlife by eradicating specific introduced predators through landscape-scale initiatives. To achieve their goals, Predator Free New Zealand was asked to explore new and innovative technological approaches to pest control. This paper explores what New Zealanders with an interest in pest control consider to be the risks and benefits of introducing new pest control technologies. The technologies we examined included gene drives, the Trojan Female Technique, and pest-specific toxins. Our focus groups articulated a number of potential benefits from introducing new technologies – such as replacing toxins with non-toxic alternatives – but it was the risks of new technologies which dominated our discussion. Reflecting on these results, we discuss the difficulties of reconciling multiple divergent public values through establishing social licence for new pest control technologies.
Nicholas Kirk is an Environmental Social Researcher at Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research. His research investigates alternative processes for managing natural resources.