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Package to address biodiversity on private land

21 December 2000 Media Statement

Government launches package to address biodiversity on private land

The Government will introduce measures to address the management of biodiversity on private land, the Minister for the Environment, Hon Marian Hobbs announced today.

The package is the result of a New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy launched in March this year and a report from a Ministerial Advisory Committee  also launched today  into biodiversity issues, specifically on land that is outside public conservation lands, such as farms, urban backyards and council reserves.

"When people think of biodiversity they often think of national parks, but much of our valued biodiversity is not in national parks or on Crown land," Marian Hobbs said. "This package is aimed at people  Maori, farmers, lifestylers  everyone in New Zealand who is a landowner.”

Ms Hobbs says the package includes a number of key elements that will support, encourage and empower local government to increase their role in the management of biodiversity as well as helping support landowners.

"Local government has a key role to play in biodiversity management," she said. "Specifically, we would like to see regional councils taking a lead on this issue with district and city councils also playing an important role. The Government  through the Ministry for the Environment  plans to provide legislation, policy and funding to help them do this."

A national policy statement  the first of its kind  will be developed in partnership with local government to provide guidance on how councils should take account of biodiversity in relation to their Resource Management Act functions.

"While we are conscious that not everybody sees a need for a national policy statement," she said, "we believe it is a valuable way to make a collective statement about what is important, and identify who is responsible for what in the area of biodiversity. In saying that, it will be sufficiently broad to allow councils some discretion on how best to achieve good biodiversity outcomes."

Ms Hobbs says the national policy statement is only one part of the biodiversity package and needs to be seen in context with other Government initiatives.

The other initiatives include:
 funding for biodiversity advisory services that offer landowners advice on how to adapt land management for better biodiversity outcomes
 more funding for biodiversity management such as doing work on pest and weed control, fencing, restoration etc
 increased support for existing protection programmes such as the QEII National Trust
 an amendment to the Resource Management Act to clarify the role of local government in biodiversity
 investigation into establishing a mechanism to better coordinate biodiversity projects and programmes.

"The issue of biodiversity decline is a serious one and this Government is committed to addressing the many issues associated with it. We believe this package goes a long way to achieving that goal," says Ms Hobbs.

Copies of the Ministerial Advisory Committee report and a summary of submissions on the earlier report 'Bio-what?' are available from the Ministry for the Environment website  www.mfe.govt.nz  or by calling the Ministry on 04-917-7493.

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