Fur agreement a win-win – but not for possums

  • 15/04/2015

A new agreement between the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the New Zealand Fur Council (NZFC) is a win-win for all, except for possums.

The new memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed today will make it easier for NZFC-accredited hunters and trappers to gain access to public conservation land for fur recovery operations.

Both DOC and NZFC say the agreement will allow New Zealand's possum fur industry to grow as well as aid conservation benefits.

"The agreement is a pragmatic way to broaden the battle against a pest that preys on native wildlife and eats an estimated 21,000 tonnes of bush a night," says director-general of conservation Lou Sanson.

"We have to prioritise our possum control operations in the areas where the forests or wildlife are most vulnerable, but there are millions of hectares of bush that we simply can't get to."

Around 1,500 workers are employed in the New Zealand possum fur industry. The industry currently generates retail sales of possum-related garments of $100 million to $150 million per year, with international tourists accounting for 85 percent of total retail sales.

"We need more possum fur to increase the market size for New Zealand's unique blended brushtail possum yarns and garments," says NZFC chairman Neil Mackie.

"Many of the possums in our country are on public conservation land, so the MOU will allow trappers to access more fur, increase the market and better target ecologically important areas."

Mr Mackie says there is unfulfilled international market demand for blended brushtail products.

He says working alongside DOC will be important in reassuring overseas customers how possum fur products are environmentally and ethically sound.

New Zealand possum fur has been seen on the fashion catwalks of Paris and is also popular in the hand-knitting scene.

Mr Sanson says by encouraging fur trappers into public conservation areas they can deliver results for the taxpayer, the fur industry and conservation.

"Our research shows that having trappers knocking down possum numbers in the buffer zones around our own targeted pest control projects can delay possum reinvasion by two to three years.

"DOC spends more than $10 million a year on possum control, so any delay in reinvasion will give New Zealanders more bang for their buck – as well as precious extra time for our native plants and birds to recover."

Mr Sanson says the fact Kiwi businesses and communities will also benefit from an increase in fur recovery operations is the icing on the cake.

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source: newshub archive