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National's support for conservation welcomed

6 September 2008

National's support for conservation welcomed

Forest & Bird has welcomed National's stated commitment to conservation in its policy released today.

However the conservation group cautioned National that the support the party signals for conservation initiatives must not come at the expense of existing conservation work and funding.

Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell says there are number of positive initiatives in National's policy, including new conservation parks in Northland and the Waitakere Ranges, support for the lead role of the Department of Conservation in conservation, funding for community groups to undertake conservation work, and tax breaks for conservation work on private land.

"Encouraging greater involvement in conservation by communities, voluntary organizations such as Forest & Bird, and private landowners is a positive move, but National must ensure that support for their increased involvement is in addition to existing Government funding for conservation - it must not come out of core funding of DOC. It must be a case of 'on top of' not 'instead of.'

Forest & Bird is encouraged to see that National says it recognises DOC as "the lead agency" in conservation - and would like it to back up that statement with a firm commitment that it will increase DOC's core funding.

"DOC manages a third of New Zealand's land area and is responsible for protecting our most endangered and precious wildlife, and does so with extremely limited funding for such a massive and vital task. While additional work by non-government conservation groups will always be welcome, DOC must be adequately resourced to fulfill its role as New Zealand's key conservation agency."

Kevin Hackwell says Forest & Bird also welcomes National's recognition that introduced pests are the key threat to New Zealand's indigenous wildlife, and its promise to fund more research into developing more effective means of pest control.

However, it was concerning that National still proposes to allow recreational hunting groups to manage areas of the conservation estate.

"It has been clearly proven that where hunters have been given responsibility for 'managing' deer populations as a hunting 'resource' the number of deer has risen dramatically, causing serious damage to our native habitats, plants and animals, as well as our valuable agricultural industry."


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