When science meets politics – The case of young adults and the Predator Free 2050 goal

When science meets politics – The case of young adults and the Predator Free 2050 goal

Author: Lucy Dickie – University of Otago, New Zealand

Co-author: Fabien Medvecky – University of Otago

In mid-2016, the Predator Free 2050 goal (PF2050) was announced, outlining the plan to remove possums, rats and stoats from New Zealand by 2050. This ambitious aim has been described as the New Zealand equivalent of the Apollo mission. Introduced mammals are one of the largest threats to New Zealand’s biodiversity due to the extensive damage they do to the environment.

Critics have been quick to point out the flaws of PF2050 – everything from the funding and timeframe to the proposed methods has been analysed. Words such as ‘underfunded’ and ‘overambitious’ have consistently come up. There is also a significant human element to this project; it will require the coordination of thousands of citizens across the country. With much of mainland New Zealand currently inhabited (compared to many previous eradications, which have occured on offshore islands), public attitudes towards predator eradication will be an important consideration. Previous attempts to eradication pests from inhabited islands have met with opposition due to the methods used and the negative side of becoming pest free.

This study looks specifically at young adults. Given the timeframe, a lot of the future work will most likely be carried out by today’s 18 to 24 year olds. Through the use of an online survey, which recieved nearly 1500 responses, this study looks at the attitudes of young adults towards PF2050, specifically, if they are knowledgeable about the goal, what they define as a predator and if they could see themselves participating in the future work and research. With the range of views towards predators and predator control that exist in New Zealand, this research will help establish whether young adults are supportive of the goal and, thus, how achievable it is likely to be.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Visual talk
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Influencing policies through science communication