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Minister unveils artwork to mark World Wetlands Day

Minister unveils artwork to mark World Wetlands Day

Conservation Minister Nick Smith has launched the game bird habitat stamp and art prints for 2013 to mark World Wetlands Day, celebrated internationally on this day each year.

The Game Bird Habitat Stamp programme is designed to raise funds - from the sale of the annual stamp and related products - for the protection and enhancement of wetlands and game bird habitat. The stamps are used to endorse hunting licences with the funds raised going towards the conservation projects.

This is the 20th in the New Zealand Game Bird Habitat Collection series, and features the Australasian bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus) or makatu.

Dr Smith says it is not the first time that a ‘non-game bird’ has been chosen for the stamp. “New Zealand is the stronghold for the bittern, but there are thought to be less than 1000 birds living here.

“I applaud the work of the Game Bird Habitat Trust which applies the funds raised from the sale of stamp items to various wetland projects. To date, over $1 million has been raised.”

The bittern is of course fully protected and not a listed huntable game bird, but its choice reflects the fact that Fish & Game and the Trust – and hunters who contribute via their game bird licence purchase – are well aware of the need to protect other wetland inhabitants, especially if they’re endangered, says Dr Smith.

Fish & Game NZ CEO Bryce Johnson congratulated Dr Smith on his ministerial appointment.

“We look forward to working with Dr Smith. He knows Fish & Game well from his previous time as Minister of Conservation and we look forward to a mutually beneficial working relationship.”

Mr Johnson says Fish & Game has long played a leading role in both advocating for, and protecting and enhancing wetland habitats.

“We have long recognised that the key to sustainable management and harvest of game birds is good habitat, “so that if you look after the habitat, the birds and fish will generally look after themselves.”

He says buying habitat stamp items is a simple and inexpensive way for all New Zealanders to give direct support to wetland habitat protection.

Earlier limited editions prints featuring other birds including the mallard, pheasant and quail are also still available.

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