New Zealand is planning on becoming the first country in the world to kill all pests such as rats as part of its plans to be predator free by 2050. Announcing the "ambitious" scheme , New Zealand prime minister John Key said that non-native pests such as rats, possums and stoats kill around 25 million of the country's native birds every year, as well as targeting other native species such as lizards.
Key added that these pests also threaten New Zealand's environment and its economy and primary sector, with their economic cost estimated to be around NZ$.3.3bn (£1.76bn, US$2.31bn) every year.
Key said: "While once the greatest threat to our native wildlife was poaching and deforestation it is now introduced predators. That's why we have adopted this goal. Our ambition is that by 2050 every single part of New Zealand will be completely free of rats, stoats and possums.
"This is the most ambitious conservation project attempted anywhere in the world, but we believe if we all work together as a country we can achieve it."
New Zealand's government already invests around NZ$60m to NZ$80m a year in pest control every year, will millions more also invested by the private sector. The government has now announced a new NZ$28m joint venture company called Predator Free New Zealand Limited to drive the programme alongside the private sector.
A Government spokesperson confirmed: "Predator Free New Zealand Limited will be responsible for identifying large, high value predator control projects and attracting co-investors to boost their scale and success."
Key added: "This ambitious project is the latest step in the National-led Government's commitment to protecting our environment. We are committed to its sustainable management and our track record speaks for itself.
"This includes the decision to establish the world's largest fully protected ocean sanctuary in the Kermadecs, better protection in our territorial sea and our efforts to improve the quality of our fresh waterways.
"We know the goal we have announced is ambitious but we are ambitious for New Zealand. And we know we can do it because we have shown time and again what can be achieved when New Zealanders come together with the ambition, willpower and wherewithal to make things happen."