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Billion dollar asset deserves Nats support

Billion dollar asset deserves National Party support

“Public conservation land is an asset worth billions of dollars to New Zealand yet the Department of Conservation gets only a fraction of this amount to safeguard it,” said Forest and Bird’s Conservation Manager Kevin Hackwell today.

Forest and Bird is urging the National Party to commit to increasing DOC’s budget after their conservation spokesperson Simon Power criticised DOC’s efforts to save threatened species.

“Publicly owned conservation land is not only crucial for the survival of our indigenous flora and fauna, it also underpins our economy. It protects our soil and water, plays a key role in New Zealand’s tourist trade and is the basis of the clean green image which farmers rely on to sell their products overseas,” Mr Hackwell said.

“We’ve heard a lot of criticism of DOC’s capacity to protect nature, but no commitments yet from National that it would increase their funding,” he said.

“In this election Forest and Bird will be looking for commitments to increase funding to DOC from all political parties so that DOC can do the job New Zealanders want it to do,” he said.

“By suggesting that managing high country conservation land is not DOC’s role, Simon Power seems to have forgotten that threatened species need somewhere to live. Many of New Zealand’s threatened species are found only in our high country,” he said.

“Giving DOC resources to protect threatened species will be pointless if the land they live on is privatised, subdivided and developed,” he said.

“National is wrong to accuse DOC of being a poor manager of high country conservation land given the work DOC has done to rid the Korowai-Torlesse Conservation Park and the Clent Hills of weeds that were left to spread by the former pastoral lessees,” he said

“Let’s not forget the lesson of Molesworth Station where Don Brash gave his speech yesterday. The private sector failed to manage Molesworth and so the state had to take over the farm,” he said.

“We’re disappointed that neither Don Brash nor Simon Power has seen fit to commend DOC for its weed and pest control work in Molesworth. Since 2003, DOC has been controlling weeds and pests on Molesworth Station even though it was not responsible for managing the land,” he said.

“DOC also controls pests and puts out fires on pastoral lease properties, but when was the last time anyone from Federated Farmers or politicians publicly thanked DOC for this work?” he said.

“All of this work needs money, and we look forward to the National Party committing to increased funding,” he said.

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