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Federated Farmers Welcomes Biodiversity Report

9 March 2000

PR16/2000

FEDERATED FARMERS WELCOMES BIODIVERSITY RECOMMENDATIONS

Farmers will welcome some of the recommendations of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on biodiversity, said Federated Farmers today.

Environment Spokesman John Aspinall said that Federated Farmers were looking for clear recognition that biodiversity protection on private land depends on goodwill, co-operation and commitment by landowners.

"Conservation requires active management of protected areas, which is dependent on earning farmers' trust and co-operation. Rules, regulations and restrictions remove that trust and co-operation, and create resentment against environmental management," said Mr Aspinall.

"The Committee has outlined principles including that 'sustaining biodiversity affected by private land management relies on the goodwill, co-operation and individual commitment of landowners and land managers'.

The Committee also highlighted that 'sustaining biodiversity requires co-ordination and collaboration', requires prioritisation of limited resources and requires an adaptive, learning approach."

Federated Farmers endorses these principles and believes that, if followed, there will be substantial benefits for biodiversity management. "Lines on maps do not protect the environment. Success in this area means gaining the co-operation of farmers."

Mr Aspinall added that "Federated Farmers are very encouraged that Environment Minister, Marian Hobbs, when launching the strategy today, strongly endorsed these principles".

Farmers will also welcome the Committee's statement that 'it would be unreasonable to require landowners to expend personal resources to enhance biodiversity for the benefit of the wider community'.

"While Federated Farmers endorses many of the Committee's recommendations, the rather weak endorsement of landowners' property rights is a real issue.

We want recognition that biodiversity aims will not be achieved unless farmers' property rights are respected, and changes are negotiated, not regulated."

The Committee has recommended developing a National Policy Statement, which Federated Farmers will only support provided that it respects farmers' rights, accepts a shared community responsibility, and does not push the responsibilities and costs onto local rural communities.

The Committee also proposed the development of a National Accord and Local Accords. While Federated Farmers believes a national accord could be useful, provided that all parties respect landowners' property rights and have genuine co-operation and responsibility sharing. The Government has recently overturned the West Coast Accord, which raises credibility concerns.

"It will not work if some parties are taking others to Court. There are currently many accords working at local level, usually through LandCare or StreamCare groups, that involve community trust, respect and sharing of responsibility, and they work very well."

ENDS

For further information: John Aspinall 025-838-087 or 03-443-7155 Sally Millar 07-838-2589


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