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  • Predator Free 2050 is an ambitious goal to rid New Zealand of the most damaging introduced predators that threaten our nation’s natural taonga, our economy and primary sector.

    Urban ecosanctuary ZEALANDIA, with support from WWF New Zealand, has produced a comprehensive teaching resource supporting schools to explore the pest-free vision with students.

    Student participation through inquiry and action can have a positive impact on improving New Zealand’s biodiversity, adding to our world-leading efforts in conservation and native restoration through citizen science. Inspire your students to connect with their local natural environment, explore fauna and flora and discover through a process of inquiry ideas that support a pest-free vision.

    This series of lesson plans focuses on students becoming actively involved in contributing to a pest-free New Zealand:

    • Inspire – overview of the resource – This overview outlines the structure of the unit, provides links to the New Zealand curriculum and outlines how to utilise the iNaturalist technology to record data. It walks teachers through a process of scientific inquiry, starting with an experiential opportunity to inspire students – a visit to an area of native bush they can identify with.
    • He tikanga – te reo Māori and English terms – These activities are intended to be used throughout the whole unit, not as a one-off activity. The intent is to help students become familiar with te reo Māori and English terms mentioned throughout the resource.
    • Mathematics and statistics in a real context – The two main elements of this lesson are analysing examples and gathering other sources of data, and collecting and displaying data to analyse to effect real-world outcomes. It can be adapted for higher levels of learning and shows the relevance of mathematical skills in a real-life context.
    • Lesson 1: Investigate: Why do we need to help? – This lesson includes a pre-unit assessment test and introduces the global iNaturalist data-collecting and citizen science platform and NatureWatchNZ regional node. Students carry out an endemic animal group research activity and investigate the concept of biodiversity – what species do we have at our place?
    • Lesson 2 and 3: Investigate: What is present? – This two-lesson sequence supports students to understand concepts such as biodiversity and unpack relevant terminology (for example, endemic, native and pest). The practical component requires setting tracking tunnels and includes some safety guidelines.
    • Lesson 4: Instigate: What’s the solution? – In this lesson, students work as pest detectives, discovering how well matched their predictions are to what they discover on the tracking tunnel pads. Students learn how to use available, safe and humane traps and how to select and set effective traps in the school area.
    • Lesson 5: Evaluate: So what? - This lesson makes connections by mapping biodiversity and its relationship to tracking tunnels and traps, includes a post-unit assessment test and supports embedding the learning and action by reflecting on the process.

    Nature of science

    Conservation efforts are improved when we understand how living organisms interact and how to effectively target pest species.

    Activity ideas

    Find out how a weasel going through a tracking tunnel at ZEALANDIA was the first sign of that this pest had got past the predator-proof fence. In the activity Making a tracking tunnel, students monitor the presence of pest species in a neighbouring gully or their school grounds.

    Careful observation is an important part of science, as outlined in the activity Observation: learning to see.

    In the activity Mapping the future, students are encouraged to connect and creates a sense of belonging by exploring changes that have taken place in their local environment in the last 50–100 years and to plan for the next 50 years.

    Related content

    In Scientists using fake smells to stop predators killing endangered birds discover an alternative innovative pest control method.

    Related PLD

    In the recorded online PD session Teachers using the Hub – Bird conservation and literacy, teacher Kim MacPherson talks about the Science Learning Hub’s resources and how she used a literacy approach to engage and explore science issues with year 7 and 8 students.

    The webinars Pest detectives, Eco-explorers and Eco-champions also support educators with conservation inquiry and action.

    We also have a recorded PLD webinar with Tame Malcolm discussing indigenous pest management.

    Citizen science

    This case study and unit plan cover how one teacher used the Identify New Zealand Animals project to help her students develop their understanding about the skills scientists use while also letting them engage in a real-life investigation.

    Useful links

    ZEALANDIA has many other educational resources. For advice or assistance in implementing this programme please contact the ZEALANDIA Education team, Go to Zealandia's Education Programmes Activites & Resources page and select Can we make New Zealand pest-free?, to see all downloadable resources on one page. If your school is in the Wellington region and you would like support to run this programme, access ZEALANDIA’s free Outreach programme by contacting

    Find out more about local and global conservation efforts by WWF.

    If you want to get involved at an individual or community level, check out Predator Free New Zealand Trust.

    Read about DOC’s work with Predator Free 2050.


    ZEALANDIA is the world’s first fully fenced urban ecosanctuary. It has an extraordinary 500-year vision to restore a Wellington valley’s forest and freshwater ecosystems as closely as possible to their pre-human state. For 50 years, WWF has been protecting the future of nature as the world’s leading conservation organisation. WWF’s unique way of working combines global reach with a foundation in science, involves action at every level from local to global and ensures the delivery of innovative solutions that meet the needs of both people and nature.

      Published 8 March 2017, Updated 9 January 2020 Referencing Hub articles
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