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Greens welcome biodiversity partnership

10 March 2000

Jeanette Fitzsimons today welcomed the prospect of a new partnership between the Government and private land owners aimed at protecting what remains of New Zealand's biodiversity.

Ms Fitzsimons, Co-Leader of the Green Party, said she strongly supported the initiatives outlined in Bio-What, a report on conservation on private land launched yesterday, and looked forward to seeing strong backing in the Budget for biodiversity protection.

"New Zealand's biodiversity has been decimated by introduced pests and the felling of native forests to the point that the symbol of our national pride, the kiwi, is under threat of extinction," said Ms Fitzsimons. "I welcome the Government's support of all private land-owners who are willing to make part of their resource available to protect the scarce remnants of our natural heritage."

Ms Fitzsimons acknowledged that an important facet of the partnership would be using public funds to back up the work done by private land-owners.

"The cost of fencing and pest control should be met by the Government where private owners are prepared to come to the party and provide the land. If owners are prepared to keep wetlands and native bush intact, then there should be some assistance in meeting the additional costs of providing a safe habitat for native species on that land."

Ms Fitzsimons said work needed to be done on the anomaly of land owners paying rates on land that they were being asked by the rest of the country to preserve as part of the country's heritage.

Ms Fitzsimons suggested that the partnership could be developed further to include restoring riparian strips to their natural state.

"If land owners are prepared to provide a 10 metre strip along unprotected river banks for biodiversity purposes, then public money could be used to enhance wildlife and water quality."

Ms Fitzsimons said the Green Party recognised that traditional land belonging to Maori required different solutions to privately owned land.

"The Green Party is in favour of doubling the funding for Nga Whenua Rahui, the Government body which supports conservation initiatives on Maori land," said Ms Fitzsimons.

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: (07) 868 6641 or 025 586 068 Gina Dempster, Press secretary: (04) 470 6723 or 021 1265 289

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