Envisioning Predator Free Miramar
Rapid urbanisation and population growth has led to the fragmentation of vital ecosystems, disconnecting communities from the natural environment, and escalating the worldwide biodiversity crisis that we are currently experiencing. In 2015, New Zealand responded to its biodiversity crisis with the most significant large-scale conservation strategy the nation has seen. The Predator Free 2050 initiative aims to facilitate environmental changes for its indigenous flora and fauna to thrive again.
New Zealand’s conservation approach has typically focused on predator management through off-shore islands and in fenced eco-sanctuaries. However, in order to achieve this nationwide predator-free status, conservation efforts must be extended into the urban realm. The success of this will rely heavily on the engagement of the public. This presents an opportunity to potentiate new knowledge around the links between community engagement and conservation in order to generate socio- ecological relations in urban environments. From a case study approach, this research will explore how landscape architecture can respond to the issues of biodiversity loss, land scarcity, and urban disconnect from nature by strengthening the relationship between social infrastructure and ecological health in an urban environment.
Miramar Peninsula (Wellington) has seen strong community efforts to become the first predator free suburb in the country. Its size and defensibility make it a logical starting point to begin predator management across Wellington city. Watts Peninsula is a prominent cultural and historical landmark located on the northern tip of Miramar Peninsula. Despite its rich heritage, the area receives low levels of public use and is overrun by exotic species. Recently, government funding was allocated to provide recreational, safety and cultural benefits through the establishment of a reserve at Watts Peninsula. This presents an opportunity to address the future upgrade of the reserve by following the principles of Predator Free 2050 initiative, linking conservation with socio-ecological resilience.
Watts reserve has been approached as a case study for developing design-led research. The research is oriented towards facilitating the ecological transformation of the area at the same time that social inclusiveness is embraced. In order to generate tangible changes, a range of small, strategic and feasible spatial interventions have been explored. The applied research methodology showcases the capacity of universities to develop civic engagement by linking national debates with local needs. The final aim of the research is to reflect how landscape architecture can catalyse the urban conservation movement to improve the habitability and sociability of our cities.