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Govt To Promote Greater Conservation Awareness

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee today announced that the Government would apply the $2.5m (GST inclusive) allocated in the Budget to promote greater conservation awareness through a raft of projects, involving:
 the funding of rural community advocates;
 urban conservation awareness projects in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch;
 conservation education projects targeting mainly schools; and
 a national conservation information sharing project.

Ms Lee said the Government would use $1.150m of the awareness funding for rural community advocates who would work with communities to raise conservation awareness through 34 projects based throughout New Zealand.

"These advocates will work with rural communities in places like the Far North, Waikato, Kapiti Coast, Central Otago and Stewart Island. They will aim to strengthen relationships and build greater understanding of conservation work," Ms Lee said.

"The Government anticipates that this intensive programme will result in an increase in the number of people involved in a hands-on way with conservation on their public land. We also anticipate that it will result in a bigger pool of people willing to support community-driven conservation initiatives."

Ms Lee said one of the projects funded would involve DOC working with landowners neighbouring the Egmont National Park, to highlight the threat of goats escaping and becoming established in the national park, to the detriment of native plant and animal species.

"All New Zealanders have the potential to make a difference for conservation," Ms Lee said. "These projects are about communicating with people to broaden their options and opportunities."

The Conservation Minister also announced that the Government had allocated $660,000 of the conservation awareness funding for 10 urban conservation projects to be based in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

She said the Department of Conservation would focus on working with community groups to network and foster community conservation activities, and to help set up appropriate community projects.
The projects would also focus on DOC building better relationships with Pacific Island and Asian people, communities the department did not traditionally reach.
"Auckland contains some distinctive conservation sites, especially located on Hauraki Gulf islands, but these are often not easily accessible to the public. One of the projects in this particular category aims to encourage urban-based conservation projects that give people a chance to be involved in conservation within their own community, similar to that offered by the capital's easily accessible Karori Wildlife Sanctuary."

Ms Lee said in Wellington, one of the main conservation issues centred on the wild visitors that continued to appear in the city harbour such as fur seals and little blue penguins. She said one project based in Wellington would see wildlife volunteer networks seeded and supported.

Christchurch projects will include raising conservation awareness in and around the city by DOC working closely with a raft of community groups and agencies, to boost public involvement in project activities.

Ms Lee said the Government would apply $361,000 of the awareness funding for 16 conservation education projects. The funding would provide resources for schools, focussed on key sites within each of DOC's 13-conservancy regions, through the Department of Conservation's Internet web site
( http://www.doc.govt.nz ) as well as in hard copy.

"The resources will be linked to the curriculum so they are useful to teachers," Ms Lee said. "This will mean teachers are able to make the most of the conservation sites from their backyard, through interesting and informative Internet trips with their classes."

Ms Lee announced that $329,000 of the funding would be used for a project that would provide groups such as local authorities, secondary and tertiary education institutions and non-government organisations with access to Department of Conservation databases.

She said this would allow easier public access to DOC information—for example—on weeds and pests, and threatened species, as well as the potential to contribute to the information so it was also available to other groups. Ms Lee said the project would merge the Department of Conservation's Intranet (an internal Internet-style network accessible to DOC staff) and website.

"The Government anticipates the $2.5m conservation awareness package announced today will secure a much greater level of rural and urban public involvement in conservation management," Ms Lee concluded.


Ends

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