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New regional biodiversity group gathers

‘Ki uta ki tai’ is an expression of the richness found across the Wellington Region from our mountain ranges to the sea.

Like our region, a passionate and diverse range of experienced practitioners and activists make up a new group with an ambitious goal - to design a Wellington Regional Biodiversity Framework seeking future gains for biodiversity conservation in the region.

The project is a partnership between Greater Wellington Regional Council, mana whenua partners, Department of Conservation and the wider community.

The goal of the Collaborative Working Group is to draw together perspectives of a wide range of individuals and groups in the community who are working hard restoring our region’s native species and ecosystems and design a shared way forward that will join up and boost these efforts.

The group’s members represent the perspectives and values of the sectors and communities they work in and connect to. The Ara Tahi Leadership Forum has appointed an ohu (advisory group) of three members representing western, central and eastern parts of the region to bring a strong Māori approach to underpin the project.

“It’s incredibly important to us that we gather a wide range of views. Based upon practices informed by nature, Māori have proven ways of working in collaboration that seek to heal and preserve all the domains between Ranginui (sky) and Papatuānuku (earth). As a new group we’re committed to working together in a shared way that is informed by our region’s unique biodiversity approaches, past, present and future. In the end, we are each responsible for the legacy we leave for future generations.” – Sharlene Maoate-Davis, co-chair of the group

Forest cover across the region has fallen massively, with just 28 per cent remaining since human arrival and only less than three per cent of its wetlands remain. Pest animals and plants continue to undermine the quality of what’s left and many native species struggle to survive. Our coastlines and coastal seas also show the stresses of development and climate change.

“We’re so glad to be making this announcement. This group coming together is a significant milestone for the project. Now we can start the process of planning how to support and restore our region’s biodiversity, together.” – Dr Paul Blaschke, co-chair of the group

Other regional councils in New Zealand have had some success in launching similar processes. These also support the national goal of halting the decline of indigenous biodiversity (the diversity of plants, animals, and habitats native to New Zealand).

A National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity and a New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy are currently being prepared by central government agencies. It is likely that these will place a greater emphasis on regional direction for biodiversity protection.

The group will be holding its first meeting later in June and the project will be launched publicly in July, coinciding with the rise of Matariki and Māori New Year. The project is expected to take up to two years.

The group will seek input from the wider community and expertise from all relevant regional sectors. For more information, visit the public page found on the Greater Wellington ‘Have Your Say’ website https://haveyoursay.gw.govt.nz/wrbf.

Group members:

Sharlene Maoate-Davis
Co-chair. Māori consultant, facilitator and rongoā practitioner
Liam Daly
Science graduate and youth conservationist
Dr Paul Blaschke
Co-chair. Environmental consultant and teacher
Sam Ludden
Sharli-Jo Solomon
Western ohu representative
Andy McKay
Community conservationist
Jenny Ngarimu
Central ohu representative
Paul Ward
Capital Kiwi founder and community conservationist
Ra Smith
Eastern ohu representative
Zoe Studd
Marine environmental scientist and educator
Daniela Biaggio
Local authority biodiversity advisor
Paul Shortis
Ornithologist and recreationalist
Quentin Duthie
Environmental policy advisor
Maggie Ford
Department of Conservation
Dr Barry Wards
Experienced conservation leader
Ali Caddy
Greater Wellington Regional Council
Dr Danielle Shanahan
Urban conservation scientist and manager

© Scoop Media

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