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Green Party Budget initiatives boost conservation

20 May 2008

Green Party Budget initiatives boost conservation projects

Two important conservation programmes will get a major funding boost of $12 million, thanks to the Green Party's successful Budget initiative.

MP Metiria Turei has secured a total funding package of $12 million to support community and government biodiversity partnerships, and research into the conservation impacts of climate change and carbon storage.

Funding of $8 million over four years will go to five major research projects on climate change on conservation land. $4 million, over two years, will go to the new National Community Biodiversity Fund to support restoration projects on public land that protect indigenous biodiversity. This will complement the existing Biodiversity Condition and Advice Fund of $3.5 million a year that funds projects on private land.

"Community groups are doing significant restoration work on public land like dune lands and urban waterways. These groups need support but often have difficulty accessing money for equipment or expertise. I expect to see the fund also support projects on Maori land, which often does not qualify as private land for funding purposes," Mrs Turei says.

In a time of increasing concern for food affordability, freshwater restoration projects can help to rebuild freshwater plant and fish food sources.

"Conservation land should be protected and its natural values restored. And now we will be able to demonstrate the extent to which native forest can mitigate the effects of climate change and how to best manage this resource in an increasingly unstable global climate."

The five projects on conservation land will research:

* The climate change implications for threatened species and threatened environments - case studies of wildlife will consider the impacts of climate change on species least able to adapt.

* The impacts changes in snow melt will have on ecosystems such as river and underground aquifers.

* Changes in plant diversity which influence carbon storage and the potential for carbon gains.

* How increasing carbon storage can maximise biodiversity values.

* The impact of extreme weather events such as floods, slippage, wind storms, tidal surges, avalanches and rock fall on management of huts, tracks, and campsites on DOC land.

"The Greens use our budget opportunities wisely to benefit New Zealanders. We neither waste opportunities nor resources," Mrs Turei says.

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Conservation Fact Sheet

Funding of $8 million over four years will go to five major research projects on climate change on conservation land, plus updating work on the Carbon Monitoring System (CMS).

The CMS is a national measurement that acts as a primary indicator for reductions or increases in the carbon footprint of conservation land.

And funding of five major research projects will support community and government biodiversity partnerships. The research projects on conservation land are:

* The climate change impacts on threatened species and threatened environments and DOC management adaption - case studies of wildlife will be used to predict the impacts of climate change on species least able to adapt. South Island river and alpine ecosystems will be a particular focus

* Measuring the impacts on water in a warming climate to see what effect changes in snow melt will have on ecosystems and extinction - studying the impact of altered snow levels and the effect on river and underground aquifier water supplies, the maintenance of freshwater habitat, human economies and habitation

* The definition of natural carbon footprint and potential for carbon gains on conservation land - researching changes in plant biodiversity which influence influence carbon sequestration, where carbon is stored and how this varies over different ecosystems on DOC land.

* Wider consequences of carbon sequestration for ecosystem - investigating how encouraging natural succession of forests will enhance sequestration along with other biodiversity values

* Assessment of the impacts on DOC infrastructure and assets - climate change is increasing the intensity of extreme weather events. What does a potential increase in floods, slippage, wind storms, tidal surges, avalanches and rock fall mean for management of huts, tracks, and campsites on DOC land?

$4 millon over two years will go to the new National Community Biodiversity Fund to support restoration projects on public land that protect indigenous biodiversity.

This new fund will complement the existing Biodiversity Condition and Advice Fund of $3.5 million a year that funds projects on private land.

The new fund is for restoration and protection projects on publicly owned riparian (river and stream bank), coastal and dune land.

The Community Diversity Fund will:

* Cover restoration projects on land in public ownership that is managed by territorial authorities (councils), LINZ and the Department of Conservation

* Encourage partnerships between community groups and the agency responsible for the land to work closely together on biodiversity projects

* Decisions on funding would be aligned with the Statement of National Priorities for protecting rare and threatened native biodiversity


ENDS

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