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Labour on conservation

12 September 2005

Labour on conservation: standing up for Kiwi values

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Conservation Minister Chris Carter today launched Labour's conservation policy, saying it reflected values and principles that New Zealanders held dear.

“Labour has demonstrated leadership in working to protect our clean, green reputation,” Helen Clark said.

“Our party knows that strong conservation values also make good economic sense. Good access to our conservation estate and carefully managed tourism and recreation in our national parks and reserves can have substantial benefits for regional economies.

“Our approach is in contrast to the narrowly focused approach of our opponents. National leader Don Brash has refused to rule out cutting the Department of Conservation’s budget, and his environment spokesman Nick Smith favours diverting funding for DOC into private conservation initiatives.

“And recent statements by National’s pro-logging forestry spokesman, Brian Connell, make it clear that National, if elected, would resume logging of Crown- owned indigenous forests.

“The 2005 election is about who can be trusted to stand up for New Zealand and for the values and principles which New Zealanders hold dear at home and abroad.

“Labour’s conservation policy reflects kiwi values, and is about taking an active approach to protecting and enhancing the environment.”

Labour established the Biodiversity Strategy in 2000 to guide a huge multi-agency assault on the factors leading to the decline in New Zealand's native species.

Helen Clark said the Strategy has received $187 million in funding over five years, the largest funding commitment ever made by a New Zealand government to the conservation of native species and natural environments. Under Labour the strategy will continue to be funded.

"DOC is a cutting-edge, internationally renowned conservation agency. We utterly reject National's plans to review it and siphon off its funds."

"The government has given over $10 million to support conservation on private land since 2002, but we have not done so at the expense of DOC, and we are not about to start," Helen Clark said.

Chris Carter said Labour would also investigate a new initiative: whether the role of the Nature Heritage Fund could be expanded to help purchase or covenant heritage landscape.

"At present, the Nature Heritage Fund focuses on protecting land with biodiversity values. There is a growing demand for the Fund to also play a greater role in protecting areas of lower biodiversity value, but very high scenic or landscape value," Mr Carter said.

"This policy sits well alongside Labour's commitment to enhance the recreation opportunities available to New Zealanders in the outdoors. In a few short years we have effectively doubled the resources available for maintaining and upgrading huts, tracks and other outdoor facilities on public conservation land.

"We have protected and guaranteed access to some spectacular parts of New Zealand, such as Birchwood Station in North Otago and Kaikoura Island in the Hauraki Gulf, and we are committed to ensuring recreational hunting of wild animals remains available without fee on public conservation land."

Key aspects of Labour's Conservation Policy

Ensure ongoing funding of the Biodiversity Strategy, and its goal of halting and reversing the decline in New Zealand's indigenous biodiversity

Establish a network of high country parks in the South Island

Investigate whether the role of the Nature Heritage Fund can be expanded to help purchase or covenant heritage landscape

Ensure recreational hunting of wild animals remains available without fee on public conservation land

Protect marine biodiversity in a network of marine reserves and other marine protected areas under the umbrella of an Oceans Policy

Extend the number of vulnerable indigenous species offered protection under the Wildlife Act, including the Great White Shark.

ENDS

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