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Biodiversity Strategy Welcomed

Forest and Bird welcomed today's launch by the Prime Minister of New Zealand's Biodiversity Strategy, describing it as a greenprint for the future survival of New Zealand's unique native plants and animals.

Forest and Bird's Conservation Director, Kevin Smith, said the crunch time for biodiversity will come in this year's budget.

"The Strategy on its own will not save our unique biodiversity unless it is backed by a substantial boost in funding. This needs to increase by more than $50 million a year over each of the next ten years."

Mr Smith welcomed the Prime Minister Helen Clark's support, announced today, for the kiwi sanctuary zone programme developed by Forest and Bird.

"If we are to save New Zealand's biodiversity, saving the kiwi - our national bird - is a good place to start."

Other key commitments in the strategy welcomed by Forest and Bird include:

* Protection of 10% of New Zealand's marine environment by 2010. * Ending the logging of native forests on Crown-owned land on the West Coast. * Increased efforts to safeguard New Zealand's freshwater biodiversity including eels and whitebait. * Greater efforts to strengthen New Zealand's border defences against alien invaders.

Mr Smith said the commitment to develop a National Policy Statement on biodiversity under the Resource Management Act was significant.

"Voluntary initiatives to safeguard nature on private land are important and need to be encouraged and further developed. But we need legal defences against wealthy coastal developers, foreign-based forestry and agricultural companies, and our own home-grown renegades who care little for nature."

"We cannot leave the future of much of our natural environment in the hands of the global economy."

Mr Smith said it was an honour to Forest and Bird that four of the worthy recipients of the 'Biodiversity Accolades' were people who had been prominent office holders in Forest and Bird: Alan Mark, John Morton, Gordon Stephenson and Gerry McSweeney.

Forest and Bird also acknowledged the important work undertaken by Nick Smith and Simon Upton in developing the Strategy when they were Ministers of Conservation and the Environment, respectively.

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