Introduction

Mainland islands aim to protect and restore habitats on the mainland of New Zealand through intensive management of introduced pests. Learn what makes each of our five mainland islands special.

Mainland islands aim to protect and restore habitats on the mainland of New Zealand through intensive management of introduced pests.

They are called mainland 'islands' because they are defined areas that are isolated by fencing, geographical features or, more commonly, intensive management of pests.

There are five major mainland islands that are managed by DOC. All have uniquely different ecosystems.

View a map on this page of these mainland islands.

What are mainland islands?

Mainland island habitats are a relatively new and exciting area of conservation management, aiming to protect and restore habitats on the mainland through intensive management of introduced pests. They are referred to as mainland 'island' habitats because they are manageable areas, isolated by means of fencing, geographical features or more commonly, intensive management.

It is a challenging concept because it is a new management technique, which means that much of the work will be undertaken as research-by-management. It is also challenging because, unlike islands which are discrete land masses surrounded by sea, mainland islands are subjected to continual reinvasion pressure from pests and predators in surrounding areas, and therefore require an ongoing commitment.

Why do we need mainland islands?

Introduced pests have had a devastating impact on a range of unique habitat types on the New Zealand mainland. Many native and endemic species are now extinct, some have been shifted to predator-free islands for a chance of survival, while others are still trying to hold on in their modified environment.

What are the benefits?

The potential benefits of mainland islands are enormous for habitats and their unique ecosystem processes, for the survival of individual species (flora and fauna) on the mainland, and for New Zealanders in being able to experience first-hand a unique New Zealand habitat containing a diverse range of native and endemic flora and fauna.

Map of DOC-managed mainland islands

Map of mainland islands managed by DOC.


Other mainland islands

Other conservation groups run similar mainland island projects:

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