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Arbor Day ideals backed by government funding

5 June 2002 Media Statement

Arbor Day ideals backed by government funding

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee has marked Arbor Day today with the announcement of funding that underlines this year's theme: Forest Health¡Xfrom compost to canopy; Hakinakinatia nga atianga a Tane-te-wao-nui (Enjoy the companionship of the progeny of Tane, the great standing forest).

"For our forests to survive, the entire ecosystem needs to be healthy and intact, from the soil to the tree-tops, " Ms Lee said. "Forest animals play a crucial role in maintaining the cycle of life, while the negative impact of introduced animal and weed pests on our forests is getting priority attention."

"The Clark-Anderton government is backing its Arbor Day ideals with funding," she said.

Ms Lee today announced $6.959m for animal pest control that will be largely invested in ongoing control work with possums, goats and thar. There will also be new programmes starting to control wallaby populations.

"Increased animal pest control work is essential to the conservation of our natural heritage," she said. "This year's funding will be targeted to priority areas where the density of pest numbers is posing a threat to the survival of native species."

Ms Lee also announced $4.629m for invasive weed control that will go into the following projects:

- 40 new weed control programmes in target areas including a huge wilding conifer project at Mid Dome in Southland, as well as important conservation sites at Molesworth in Marlborough and Bream Head near Whangarei; and

- 27 projects to eradicate or control the spread of new weeds, including kangaroo acacia in Northland, purple loosestrife in Canterbury and marram in Fiordland.

Ms Lee has also announced that $3.875m will be committed this year for 'mainland island' and species recovery work. She said projects resulting from this year's funding include:

- Conservation work to protect native species in South Island beech forests, including mohua, orange-fronted parakeets, kaka and mistletoe;

- Investigation of ways in which to protect New Zealand's number one threatened fish species, Kakanui longjaw galaxid, found only in the Kauru River in North Otago;

- Investigating the impact of a deadly chytrid fungus disease on native frog populations in the Waikato; and

- Threatened plant protection efforts on the Chatham Islands and in Nelson-Marlborough and Northland.

In addition, Ms Lee announced that $2.078m would be allocated towards a Terrestial and Freshwater Biodiversity Information System programme.

"As well as improving awareness and providing access to biodiversity information, this system will also provide new priority information necessary for the conservation of our natural heritage," she said. "A share of this year's funding is planned to be invested in filling some of the priority gaps in our knowledge about the distribution of plant and animal species, ecosystems and habitats."

Ms Lee said a major part of the programme had been the construction and ongoing development of a new computer-based mapping and query system. She said this was currently available to 1500 DOC staff but would ultimately be available via the Internet.

The Conservation Minister also announced $1.184m for offshore island pest eradication that will include the targeting of rats and wild cats on Raoul Island.

"It is important for the protection of all the native species living on these islands that they are rodent free and continue to be so. The investment DOC and the government are making in these islands will help ensure the ongoing protection of our threatened biodiversity."

Meanwhile a project involving the revival of hapu knowledge concerning local native trees and plants, the various uses and the best environment for their regeneration is one of several that will be supported by a $665,000 allocation to the Matauranga Kura Taiao Fund¡Xan initiative to support use of traditional Maori knowledge in the management of our biodiversity.

"Much of the traditional knowledge associated with our native biodiversity is being lost and is in danger of disappearing forever," Ms Lee said. "This Fund aims to stem the tide, to help retain and use that knowledge in managing our biological diversity."

Ms Lee said all the funding announced today would come from Year Three (2002/03) new spending of $38m to implement the government's Biodiversity Strategy to turn the tide on New Zealand's loss of biodiversity.


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