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Young people help drive conservation efforts

7 August 2006

Young people help drive conservation efforts

Conservation Week (7-14 August), is a chance to recognise the hundreds of young people all over the country who work daily to support New Zealand's conservation efforts and enhance Kiwis' enjoyment of the outdoors.

Since 1992, more than 20,500 young people aged 15-21 have participated in the Ministry of Youth Development's New Zealand Conservation Corps programmes, getting involved in environmentally-beneficial activities as diverse as marine mammal work, kiwi recovery and native plant identification. They've also eradicated 4330 pests, completed more than 17,000 walking tracks, maintained 150 huts and planted 217,000 trees, for the benefit of their communities.

"During Conservation Week, I'd like to acknowledge the efforts of the approximately 1500 young people annually who contribute to protecting and enhancing New Zealand's unique environment for the benefit of their communities and all New Zealanders, through the Ministry's Conservation Corps programme," Youth Affairs and Associate Environment Minister Nanaia Mahuta said.

"In addition to teaching valuable work skills, self-confidence and the importance of working in a team, these programmes also give young people who may not have had any experience of New Zealand's great outdoors a chance to get a taste of working in our fantastic natural environment.

"I'm also aware of the tremendous satisfaction that young people get from these programmes, and of the valuable contribution they make in supporting the Department of Conservation's (DOC) own efforts to protect and enhance our native environment.

"Using the skills learnt during the Conservation Corps programme as a stepping stone, thousands of young people over the years have gone on to further work, education and training, including careers with DOC and in other fields.

"I want to encourage other young people to get involved in Conservation Week activities, with this year's theme that conservation is 'everybody's business'. Getting involved in a Conservation Corps programme or becoming a volunteer for DOC are just some of the ways to get involved.

"We have a lot to be proud of as a nation, and preserving and enhancing our natural heritage, flora, fauna, parks, reserves, huts and walkways is a key part of our national identity," Nanaia Mahuta said.

ENDS

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