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Labour's conservation policy welcomed

12 September 2005 - Wellington

Labour's conservation policy welcomed

Forest and Bird today welcomed Prime Minister Helen Clark's commitment to reversing the decline of New Zealand's native plants and animals and an active approach to protecting and enhancing the environment.

"Currently the country spends more on running Parliament than on protecting native plants and animals over 30% of New Zealand's land area," said Forest and Bird's Conservation Manager Kevin Hackwell.

"Forest and Bird is particularly pleased to see commitments to establish a network of high country parks, fund the Biodiversity Strategy, create new marine reserves and extend protection to the globally threatened great white shark."

"Most New Zealanders will welcome the commitment to new high country parks. These parks will be a great asset for conservation and open up new lands for recreation, instead of allowing the high country to be closed off in private safari parks," he said.

"We welcome the commitment to achieving sustained reductions in the by-kill of marine mammals and seabirds. Currently too many dolphins, seals, sea lions and albatross are killed as a result of commercial fishing operations," he said.

"Less than 1% of New Zealand's marine environment is currently protected in marine reserves. That is not enough and we welcome the commitment to protecting 10% of New Zealand's marine environment in marine reserves by 2010," he said.

"The commitment to 'sufficient funding' for weed and pest control will require new money for the Department of Conservation so that it has the resources needed to protect New Zealand's public conservation lands," he said.

"It is important that Labour's commitment to saving threatened species extends to the endangered land snail Powelliphanta "Augustus", whose last remaining habitat is about to be destroyed by state mining company Solid Energy," he said.

"We are also pleased to see a commitment to ending the special privileges for mining on public conservation land. It has been in Labour's policy since 1996, so it is time for Labour to deliver," Mr Hackwell concluded.

Notes

According to the 2005 Budget figures:

* In Vote Conservation, $124M was budgeted to protect natural heritage on public conservation land.

* Parliament is paid for out of Vote Parliamentary Service and Vote Parliamentary Counsel which totals $132M. This does not include the costs of supporting Ministers.

ENDS


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