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Conservation Message Gets A Boost

Ensuring the Conservation Department is able to develop positive working relationships with the community is the primary motivation behind additional funding of $2.5 million, says Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.

Late yesterday Cabinet approved the details of the funding - part of the $15 million package of Green Party initiatives announced in conjunction with the Budget.

The largest proportion of the funding, just over $1 million, will be used to develop initiatives with rural communities, including a network of rural advocates to help foster respect and understanding of natural habitats.

"Having dedicated rural advocates will mean that people who approach the department for information, consultation or advice won't be shunted from pillar to post by DoC staff who have other jobs to do," Ms Fitzsimons said. "There will be someone at DoC who is there to help."

Other areas to get a boost will be urban conservation awareness ($0.587m), conservation education ($0.321m) and information sharing ($0.292m).

"Education and awareness programmes are always an easy target for funding cuts and DoC's work in this area has been continually whittled away, almost to nothing," said Ms Fitzsimons. "Ironically, under successive National governments, this left DoC often at war with landowners who did not understand the need for regulation to protect nature.

"This funding will help restore DoC's function as an advocate for nature, engaging local people, which is critical to complement its core role in conducting on-the-ground threatened species and pest control work," Ms Fitzsimons said.

As an example she pointed to a new initiative working with farmers to prevent re-introduction of goats to Egmont National Park.

"There's not much point in DoC controlling goats in Egmont National Park if they are only going to be replaced by goats jumping the fence from the farms next door," she said.

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP, 025 586 068


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