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Canterbury region’s Biodiversity Strategy


March 19, 2008

MEDIA STATEMENT

Launch of Canterbury region’s Biodiversity Strategy

A region-wide strategy to protect Canterbury’s native biodiversity will be officially launched on March 27 at a function attended by the Minister of Conservation, Hon Steve Chadwick. The Minister will also be visiting biodiversity projects on western Banks Peninsula, looking at projects as diverse as remnant podocarp forest, skink and gecko protection at Birdlings Flat, and Lake Wairewa catchment initiatives.

A Biodiversity Strategy for the Canterbury Region will be released after more than a year’s extensive consultation between councils, central government agencies, research and conservation organisations, Ngai Tahu, and landowner, industry, and community groups. Developed by an advisory group comprising representatives of the 22 organisations involved, the non-statutory strategy identifies priorities for biodiversity initiatives in Canterbury region.

“Canterbury boasts a diverse range of habitats, from alpine to coastal, which makes our natural heritage unique within New Zealand as well as internationally significant,“ says Cr Ross Little, Environment Canterbury’s biodiversity advisory group representative. “The strategy establishes priorities for preserving and enhancing our natural heritage, and fosters a coordinated, cooperative approach for moving forward.

“It is not a panacea for all issues or problems related to biodiversity. However, it provides us with a framework and priorities for protecting our ecosystems, so that we can enjoy the environmental, cultural, social and economic benefits for years to come. Our native plants and animals are vital to our New Zealand identity and it is time to learn more about them and do more about protecting them,” says Cr Little.

On-going habitat modification and the impact of plant and animal pests are the two greatest threats to Canterbury’s remaining indigenous biodiversity. In lowland and coastal areas, less than 10 per cent of native plant cover remains.

A steering group and a regional biodiversity coordinator will assist with strategy implementation.

“The strategy reflects the importance that our community places on maintaining Canterbury ecosystems,” says Cr Jane Demeter, chair of Environment Canterbury’s biodiversity portfolio committee. “Its success hinges on local communities, individuals, businesses and agencies sharing the responsibility of translating the document into action.”

Cr Demeter said that Environment Canterbury is excited to be celebrating the strategy’s launch with its partners and the Minister of Conservation. “But we also want to make sure we are helping launch actions that will lead to practical, on-the-ground successes. We at ECan are committed to continuing to work in partnership and have put up our hand to lead a number of the actions recommended by the advisory group,” she says.

A summary and a full version of the biodiversity strategy can be downloaded from ECan’s website www.ecan.govt.nz/biodiversity

ENDS

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