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"Bio-What?" Launched - With Executive Summary

Media Release
Hon Marian Hobbs
Minister for the Environment

9 March 2000
"BIO-WHAT?" LAUNCHED


The diversity of creatures and plants with which we share our country are an important part of what makes New Zealand New Zealand, the Minister for the Environment, Marian Hobbs, said today.

Announcing the launch of the preliminary report of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on biodiversity and private land, Ms Hobbs said landowners have a critical role to play in maintaining New Zealand’s native plants and animals.

“Landowners and their communities cannot be required to act with public spirit and generosity but we cannot achieve our biodiversity goals without them,” she said.

A committee consisting of former Federated Farmers President, John Kneebone (Chair), lawyer, Mark Christensen, Ecologist, Dr Judith Roper-Lindsay, and farmer and conservationist, Kevin Prime, compiled the report.

Entitled "Bio-What?" the report recommends developing a national accord on biodiversity between key parties with a focused national policy statement under the Resource Management Act to define roles and establish a methodology for local government.

It also recommends a suite of non-statutory guidance and greater government assistance with information, research and incentive schemes to help councils apply the national policy statement and to support local measures and local communities.

“Halting the decline in New Zealand’s biodiversity will not be achieved through forced compliance nor from increased public funding alone," Ms Hobbs said.

“We need private landowners who understand and accept the importance of this issue, and we need to encourage and assist them to make the right decisions.

“The advisory committee has offered its view on a general approach to the issue. Now its time to hear from others.”

The Advisory Committee will receive submissions on the preliminary report until 16 June, 2000.

RELEASE ENDS

MORE INFO:

Bio-what?

Preliminary report of the Ministerial Advisory Committee addressing the effects of private land management on indigenous biodiversity.
Executive summary

New Zealand’s and New Zealanders’ interests in biodiversity are diverse. Biodiversity - a term which has entered common usage to refer to the diversity of plants and animals, and the places they live – contributes to our sense of national identity, provides ecosystem services upon which we all depend, is culturally important and defines our sense of place, and is valued by many as an expression of life itself. After evolving in isolation and becoming distinctively ‘different’, New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity is in steep decline under pressure from human activity and introduced plants and animals.

This document sets out the discussion of a Ministerial Advisory Committee established in early 1999 to consider ways to sustain indigenous biodiversity on private land. It looks at ways we can better care for our native plants and animals, and the places they live, and recognises the special challenges posed by that goal.

Seven principles underpin the approach proposed. These are:
 sustaining biodiversity on private land relies on the individual commitment of land owners and managers;
 Maori have a distinct relationship to biodiversity and
 sustaining biodiversity requires a strategic approach;
 effectively sustaining biodiversity requires co-ordination and collaboration;
 there is a need for active management;
 those with responsibilities for biodiversity have variable capacity to respond;
 we need to take a learning approach.

The overall approach proposed by the Committee involves establishing a national goal, clarifying roles and responsibilities and providing the guidance, support and flexibility for local solutions.

To implement the approach the Committee recommends:
 the development of an accord between key parties at a national level, as a first step to recognising differing perspectives and common concerns;
 a focused national policy statement (NPS), which defines roles and establishes a methodology that local government should follow;
 a suite of non-statutory guidance to assist councils to apply the NPS;
 additional Crown actions (such as the provision of information, research and incentive schemes) to support local measures;
 assistance to local communities with the development of local accords.

Specifically, the Committee suggests that the Crown facilitate the development of a national biodiversity accord, to be known as the New Zealand Accord on Biodiversity and Land Management. The accord would seek agreement on the following matters:
 the status of the accord;
 the importance and decline of New Zealand’s biodiversity;
 the rights and responsibilities of stakeholders;
 how to manage for biodiversity;
 recognition of the differing priorities and capacities of signatories;
 recognition of the lack of information on, and public awareness of, biodiversity;
 recognition of the need for resources;
 a common goal and
 implementation of the accord.

The Committee proposes development of a second biodiversity accord, to be known as the Aotearoa Accord on Biodiversity and Land Management. This Accord - or reaffirmation – would be focused on the relationship between Maori and their Treaty partner, the Crown. The Accord would also acknowledge the significance of Matauranga Maori (Maori traditional knowledge), and Maori’s :
 unique world-view of biodiversity
 relationship with Wahi Tapu
 status as kaitiaki and
 traditional management approaches to biodiversity.

The Committee believes that the value of the two national Accords could be greatly enhanced if they led to specific and detailed local agreements, which would give effect to the broad understandings reached at the national level. Local accords can also apply the general national agreements while recognising local conditions and local issues.

A National Policy Statement (NPS) under the Resource Management Act could usefully provide a clearer and more specific regulatory framework within which a range of regulatory and non-regulatory initiatives should take place. It would deal with the effects of land use on biodiversity (whether terrestrial, aquatic or marine).

The committee suggests that the National Policy Statement could cover the following four matters:
 a national objective
 a requirement to take action
 a methodology for regional councils to select objectives, policies and methods
 an outline of matters that should be monitored.

The Committee considers that additional guidance will be needed to ensure that people can work more effectively in the interests of better outcomes for biodiversity. The guidance would target those exercising functions and powers under the Act, assisting them as to how the NPS should be applied. This guidance would also be available to the general public and interest groups, to indicate how they could act in accordance with the intentions of the policy statement.

The Committee recognises that, ultimately, achieving New Zealand’s and New Zealanders’ goals for biodiversity will result not from forced compliance or from increased public funding alone. Outside public conservation areas it also depends largely on understanding, acceptance and informed decision-making by individuals, companies and regulatory and non-regulatory public agencies. It will take the combined resources and the co-operation of all these to halt the decline in New Zealand’s biodiversity.

ENDS


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