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Operation Ark good but where's the money?


Operation Ark good but where's the money?

Forest and Bird is calling on Conservation Minister Chris Carter to seek new funding for Operation Ark from Cabinet and to declare which conservation projects will be cut to pay for the programme to prevent extinctions of threatened species in South Island forests.

"It is a hopeless situation when nearly $1 million is being robbed from other important conservation work in order that critically endangered birds such as the orange fronted parakeet aren't driven to extinction by stoat predation following this year's heavy seed (mast) year in the South Island," said Forest and Bird's Conservation Manager Kevin Hackwell.

"But even $1 million is inadequate, as DOC has had to prioritise its spending to just three areas, when it has clear information that Project Ark assistance is needed at a fourth site in the Catlins. The population of the threatened mohua (yellowhead) in the Catlins may fall victim to predicted stoat plagues because of a lack of funding," he said.

"Last year government officials revealed that they would fail to meet New Zealand's Biodiversity Strategy goal of halting the decline in biodiversity without increased funding. It is not acceptable to fund Operation Ark from existing budgets - officials have previously warned of the consequences," he said.

"It is important that Conservation Minister Chris Carter is open about the other conservation projects that may be slashed to pay for Operation Ark - taxpayers need to know the tradeoffs and sacrifices being made," he said.

"The scale of destruction caused by pests is almost unprecedented internationally and it needs a commensurate response. Instead the government is juggling inadequate funds and hoping for the best. The Government has money to pay for Operation Ark - and the need is critical. Cabinet should fund it," he said.

"In light of last year's report by the chief executives of Ministries of Agriculture and Forestry, Environment and Fisheries and the Department of Conservation, officials should be tasked with calculating the cost of properly funding New Zealand's Biodiversity Strategy - right now nobody knows," he said.

"Failure to properly fund New Zealand's Biodiversity Strategy will result in extinctions - surely that is something no New Zealander wants," he said.

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