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Biodiversity Report Wake Up Call For NZ

Thursday, December 04, 2003 - Wellington

MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE

Biodiversity Strategy report a wake-up call for NZ


Forest and Bird is calling the Government's annual Biodiversity Strategy report a wake-up call for New Zealand. The report reveals that not enough is being done to stem the loss of native plants and animals.

"Our unique native plants and animals are facing perilous risks and, as a country, we are not yet doing enough to give them a future," Forest and Bird's Biosecurity Awareness Officer Geoff Keey said.

"Government Chief Executives responsible for this report should be commended for presenting such a frank assessment of the situation. We owe it to New Zealand's threatened plants and animals to sit up and take note of what these Chief Executives are saying," he said.

Key findings in the annual report include:

* Current pest management effort is insufficient to halt the decline in biodiversity (pg 11)

* Species decline in many areas is continuing and its effects are becoming more apparent, with species such as mohua (yellowhead) and whio (blue duck) in more serious decline than was realized earlier (pg 12).

* The Biodiversity Strategy objective of maintaining representative populations of threatened species in habitats and ecosystems important for indigenous biodiversity will not be achieved at the current level of resourcing and knowledge (pg 45).

* Periodic rat and stoat population explosions are causing continued species decline among whio (blue duck) and many South Island bird species (pg 45).

* Effort for freshwater species is not sufficient to halt the decline in species populations or ranges. At the current level of effort, and with existing knowledge, the rate of decline is likely to increase over time, with a resulting loss of species from some locations and extinctions of some species (pg 45).

* Current trapping regime for stoats in the Okarito and Haast sanctuaries may not be sufficient to increase kiwi numbers (pg 47).

* At least 2/3 of vulnerable ecosystems get no possum control (pg 48).

"Only a few months ago we learnt that orange-fronted parakeets were on the brink on extinction. This is symptomatic of a more widespread decline in our native species - a decline that is being slowed, but not halted," Geoff Keey said.

"This report is the first to give an indication of likely long term trends. These trends confirm Forest and Bird's concerns about the future of native plants and animals. Lack of resources and knowledge is hampering efforts to protect our native plants, animals and ecosystems. It is imperative that this is addressed," he said.

"New Zealand's native plants and animals help make this country one of the most remarkable places on earth. That is a challenge we all share. What this report is telling us is that the challenge is bigger than was realized in the past and that a redoubling of effort is required if we are to genuinely turn the tide of biodiversity loss.

Note

The main government departments responsible for production of this report are: Department of Conservation, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Fisheries and Ministry for the Environment.

This release does not cover marine and high country conservation. For marine conservation issues contact Senior Researcher Barry Weeber (025 622 7369) and Northern Field Officer David Pattemore (09 303 3073). For high country conservation issues contact South Island Field Officers Eugenie Sage (03 3666 317) and Sue Maturin (03 477 9677). For an overview contact Conservation Manager Kevin Hackwell (04 385 7374).

Geoff Keey, Biosecurity Awareness Officer, 04 385 7374 (w), 027 426 0007 Kevin Hackwell, Conservation Manager, 04 385 7374 (w), 04 389 4815 (h), 025 227 8420


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