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Biodiversity Funding Pre-Budget Announcement

Biodiversity funding aims to prevent extinction and promote restoration of endangered species

A $187 million (GST incl) package of measures will be funded during the next five years to implement the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy to prevent the extinction and promote the restoration of our endangered native species.

The funding package has been unveiled in a joint pre-Budget announcement at Parliament today by three of the key ministers implementing the Strategy:
* Conservation Minister Sandra Lee (Lead Minister)
* Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson
* Environment and Biosecurity Minister Marian Hobbs.

Ms Lee said the funding, to implement the Biodiversity Strategy launched in March, was "the most substantial commitment ever made by a New Zealand Government to the conservation of our native species and their ecosystems."

"The additional funding will be boosted year-by-year with $18 million extra in the first year," she said. "The year two extra funding is set at $28 million, with $38 million extra allocated for the third year, $48 million extra for the fourth year and $55 million extra in year five." Ms Lee said the Government had now put on the table its share of the funding over the first part of the Strategy's time line. "We will be working to gain additional local authority and private sector support, to complement voluntary community efforts and help make the Strategy goals a reality."

Ms Hobbs said the Biodiversity Strategy's main goals were to restore and sustain a full range of our dwindling species and their habitats, safeguard our most important introduced species, and also safeguard tangata whenua interests in the protection of indigenous plants and animals. She said the funding would assist communities by improving information, and help landowners and others to improve the condition of biodiversity on private land.

Mr Hodgson said much of our threatened biodiversity was in our oceans which have little protection, but that was about to change. He said funding for an oceans' management strategy to increase the understanding and protection of New Zealand's marine resources would support critical future decisions, such as how species should be managed. "It will help to identify and assess both potential opportunities from our ocean resources and threats to the marine environment," Mr Hodgson said.

Ms Lee said conservation highlights in today's package included a significant funding increase for animal pest and weed control—$57 million over five years. "This significant portion of the $187 million Biodiversity Strategy package is necessary as animal pests and weeds pose the single greatest threat to conserving biodiversity on land, " she said. “Our native species are being attacked by 'armies' of introduced predators like possums, goats and strangling weeds. This additional funding means we can step up our defence – invasive weed control will be increased by 150% and areas of possum control will increase.”

She said other highlights included the Government commitment during the next five years to spend an additional $10 million on enhancing the Kiwi Recovery programme to fund five new kiwi sanctuaries, and an extra $11.5 million towards increasing the number of marine reserves around New Zealand.

The Conservation Minister said New Zealand was unlike most other developed countries because the most pervasive environmental issue we faced was the decline in our biological diversity. "Some 85 percent of our lowland forests and wetlands are now gone, and with 1000 species and sub-species under threat, the Government has seized the initiative and set realistic goals we hope will be over-achieved, " she said.

Ms Lee is leading a Ministerial Group on biodiversity that also includes
the Minister of Finance, Dr Michael Cullen, the Biosecurity and Environment Minister, Marian Hobbs, the Minister of Fisheries, Pete Hodgson and the Minister of Agriculture, Jim Sutton. It will report to Cabinet annually, beginning October this year, on overall progress being made to implement the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy.

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