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Government's Bio-What? Response A Mixed Bag

21 December 2000

The Government's response to the Final Report of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on 'Biodiversity on Private Land', released today is long on words, but short on details, according to Federated Farmers President Alistair Polson.

"The response does not have a lot of detail. It has the potential to be positive, but only time and the actual delivery will tell."

"Landowners put considerable effort into contributing to the BioWhat? Report that was the precursor to the Final Report. They will be heartened by John Kneebone's, Chairman of the Committee, overview, but now they want delivery on a policy that recognises their pivotal role."

"However, the Government's determination to push ahead with a National Policy Statement, against landowners' wishes, will cause most landowners to withhold their support. This lack of support will remain until they see clear, demonstrated evidence that both central and local government recognise that landowners are key to protecting biodiversity on private land. Landowners will be looking for a policy that uses incentives, not regulations."

The Minister of Environment's speech stated that the funding of new biodiversity advisory services will be contestable. Mr Polson welcomed this feature, saying, "Proven agencies that have the trust of landowners, such as the QEII Trust and the Landcare Trust, will be critical for the success of the service."

Mr Polson also backed the Minister's statement that "Programmes that encourage and support change in landowner behaviour are the key to overcoming threats to biodiversity."

"The key words are 'encourage and support.' If the Minister follows through on those sentiments, she will do a great deal for the protection New Zealand's biodiversity."

ENDS For further information: Alistair Polson 025-370-085 Catherine Petrey 04-473-7269 or 04-566-5636


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