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New conservation fund announced

New conservation fund announced

A Community Conservation Partnership Fund to support the work of voluntary organisations undertaking natural heritage and recreation projects was launched today by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith at the opening of the new Hoddy Estuary Park in Nelson.

"Thousands of New Zealanders contribute to conservation by building tracks, controlling pests, planting trees, and restoring native wildlife. This new fund is about the Government providing finance for the plants, traps, poisons, equipment and coordination to support this voluntary work," Dr Smith says.

The new fund of $26 million over the next four years is to be distributed to community organisations in an annual contestable funding round of between $6 million and $7 million a year. Projects may be funded over multiple years, reflecting the time it takes to complete projects of this sort. The first round of the Fund opens today and closes on 1 May with decisions to be announced in June and July. The Community Conservation Partnership Fund replaces the Biodiversity Advice and Condition Fund of $3.6 million per year. The additional funding is coming from underspend and efficiency gains from last year's DOC restructuring.

"This increase in community conservation funding is part of the Government's changes for DOC to be more outward-looking and to engage in partnerships with the community and business. The criteria for the previous Biodiversity Advice and Condition Fund has been broadened to support recreation as well as conservation, to allow projects on public as well as private land, to prioritise funding for projects that collaborate with other organisations and which help New Zealanders get more involved in protecting our natural environment," Dr Smith says.

The announcement was made at the formal opening of the Hoddy Estuary Park on the Waimea Estuary that has involved extensive planting of native trees and foreshore plants, pest control and restoration of habitat for native birds like the endangered Banded Rail. Dr Smith, prior to being appointed a Minister in 2008, was chair and a trustee of the new park.

"This new estuary park has been created over the last decade through thousands of hours of voluntary work and fundraising of hundreds of thousands of dollars. It will provide enjoyment to generations of New Zealanders and international visitors with its pond walkway, native habitat, and estuarine environment. The new Community Conservation Partnership Fund is intended to help ambitious future projects of this sort," Dr Smith says.

"This new fund recognises that since DOC was established 25 years ago, there has been an explosion of community groups from Kaitaia to Stewart Island formed to improve conservation of their local environment. The gains of expanding our support for this work is that we get more conservation for the taxpayer dollar, more New Zealanders active in the outdoors, and we have more people aware of New Zealand's unique conservation challenges.

"The Community Conservation Partnership Fund reflects the Government's 'blue-green' agenda of getting the community and business more involved in conservation. We believe that conserving what makes New Zealand so special is not just the Government's business, but everyone's, and this fund will help achieve that goal," Dr Smith concluded.


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