Sanctuary: The Whakatipu Basin lies at the heart of a major predator control project that's just received $3 million in funding. PICTURE: MO TURNBULL


With funding assured for the next three years, the Southern Lakes Sanctuary Trust is on  the hunt for people to put its vision into practice.

The trust’s aiming to intensively control or eradicate possums, rats, mustelids and other predators across 183,000 hectares, in the catchments of Lakes Wānaka and Whakatipu, to create a sanctuary for more than 20 threatened or at-risk bird and lizard species.

Last week, conservation minister Kiri Allan announced $3 million in funding for the trust, a
consortium of six conservation groups representing the work of more than 85 predator control projects across the Queenstown Lakes.

Trust boss Greg Lind says the trust will soon appoint a conservation project director, while 8-10 more staff covering biodiversity, education, training, and communications will be recruited by the end of the year.

Early next year, a team of field staff will be put to work on the project by GSD Workforce Ltd, a subsidiary of Queenstown Bungy, over an area stretching from Makarora to Glenorchy.

GSD will be the trust’s ‘‘engine room’’, also providing essential expertise in areas such as payroll and health and safety, Lind says.

The new funding’s expected to create 38 full-time equivalent jobs all up.

Although the Southern Lakes Sanctuary was launched in May last year as a $30m project
over 660,000ha, there wasn’t enough Jobs for Nature money available to ‘‘fund the whole
beast’’, he says.

‘‘We would’ve needed major outside funders, but in the time period available to us to get it off the ground, it simply wasn’t possible.

‘‘So the project’s been scaled back, but the intent is still there for the original proposal.’’

The trust’s a consortium, including the Central Otago Lakes branch of Forest & Bird, Route
burn Dart Wildlife Trust, Soho Properties, and Whakatipu Wildlife  Trust.