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Enviro compensation assists sustainable tourism

Environmental compensation will assist in sustainable tourism – legal expert

Environmental compensation is a tool which will assist in achieving sustainable tourism, a Dunedin lawyer said today.

Maree Baker said there were opportunities in New Zealand legislation to seek environmental compensation in a bid to sustain tourism.

The trend toward environmental compensation would continue especially as companies and people wanted to carry out more projects which might impact on the environment.

Ms Baker is a speaker at the first international Green Globe conference in Kaikoura next week.

She said the resource management regime seemed more amenable to using environmental compensation than the Conservation Act regime.

``In the Resource Management regime, environmental compensation is an established, yet still developing, policy tool.

``Operators who adopt the Green Globe principle and propose appropriate environmental compensation may be able to get "two birds with one stone", and assist their process of obtaining resource consents, while also complying with the Green Globe principles.’’

Ms Baker said other countries recognize that environmental compensation can be effective in preventing the further decline of threatened species and habitats and New Zealand would benefit from this approach.

``Without the explicit promotion and recognition of the concept as a valuable planning tool, New Zealand may not be using its full potential to achieve biodiversity objectives.

``Many sustainable ecotourism operations rely on the continued viability of New Zealand's biodiversity and habitats. This is therefore an opportunity for the industry to promote use of the tool of environmental compensation, lobby for policy and legislative change so that its ongoing use is assured and sustainable tourism practices strengthened.’’

A growing number of countries and international conservation organisations are developing their own variations of the concept to, for example, prevent decline of endangered species and ecosystems.

There are numerous district and regional plans that specifically contemplate environmental compensation. Kaikoura became the first tourist resort in New Zealand – and only the second community in the world - to earn Green Globe status last year.

Green Globe is the world’s only global tourism certification programme.

Bill Meade, a sustainable tourism consultant from Washington, is a keynote speaker. He will talk on the Red Sea sustainable tourism initiative.

Local government officials, community representatives, tourism and sustainable operators, researchers, business people from New Zealand, Australia and other countries will attend the March 3-5 conference.

Copyright 2004 Word of Mouth Media NZ

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