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Bio-What? Is A Disappointing Report

NEWS RELEASE: 9 MARCH 2000

BIO-WHAT? IS A DISAPPOINTING REPORT


The Ecologic Foundation is disappointed with today’s report of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on biodiversity protection on private land.

“Today’s ‘Bio-What?’ report has many good points, but its overall strategy just extends an approach which has not been working,” said Ecologic’s executive director Guy Salmon.

“There is a failure to confront the central issue, which is to specifically define what the property rights and obligations of landowners actually are.

“I fear the Minister for the Environment (Marian Hobbs) is fueling the debate over property rights, without having any real idea how she is going to resolve it.”

Spending a lot of money on scientific and planning studies which target bits of vegetation to protect would have an unintended side-effect, Mr Salmon said. It would create a large category of native forests, tussocklands and wetlands which are classified as being ‘not significant’ in terms of the Resource Management Act.

“That means that habitat destruction will continue, but public abhorrence of it will continue as well. This report fails to recognize that the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders simply don’t want the remaining area of native forest and wildlife habitats further reduced.”

Mr Salmon said a better approach would be based on the NZ Forests Accord, under which New Zealand’s more responsible forestry companies have pledged not to clear native forest at all, if it meets certain minimum specifications of area and composition.

“The real task is to extend that sort of approach so that it can cover the farming community, subdivision developers, and the less responsible forest companies that have so far not signed the Accord.

“Issues of biodiversity protection cannot, for practical reasons, be separated from other aspects of sustainable land management such as stream protection and erosion prevention.

“What we need is a clear specification of sustainable property rights which addresses all these issues, and that in turn should be linked to a sizeable programme of public assistance to help landowners come into practical compliance with their obligations,” Mr Salmon said.

Guy Salmon (025) 201 3033

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