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DOC job cuts threaten unique species and places

7 May 2013

DOC job cuts threaten unique species and places

Forest & Bird is concerned that the protection of our unique species and places will suffer once today’s job cuts have been implemented, as the Department of Conservation (DOC) will have lost ten per cent of its workforce in just the last year.

DOC announced today that it would be cutting 72 mainly frontline roles. This follows the loss of hundreds of jobs since 2009, when the government began cutting $13.5 million a year from the department’s annual budget.

“While fewer jobs have been lost than originally planned, DOC will still be losing many skilled and experienced frontline staff,” says Forest & Bird’s Advocacy Manager, Kevin Hackwell. “The conservation and protection of our unique species and special places will suffer as a result.”

DOC had been planning to cut 140 roles, as part of a restructuring plan released in March.

More than 1000 staff, members of the public and organisations submitted on the proposal, while Forest & Bird campaigned for the government to reverse several years of funding cuts to the department.

Last week Conservation Minister Nick Smith responded by announcing that this year’s budget would contain $5 million more in funding for DOC than was planned.

“But that increase still leaves DOC $3.8 million short this year, and it will have to find savings of another $14 million over the next three years. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see further rounds of frontline job cuts in the coming years.”

Kevin Hackwell says that the government’s continual reductions in DOC’s funding are extremely short-sighted, for several reasons.

“DOC plays a critical role in looking after New Zealand’s endangered species and precious places, and in looking after our clean green image, which is what most of the tourists who come to New Zealand want to see.

“Relying on sponsors and volunteers to fill the gaps as DOC contracts, which is at the core of this restructure, simply won’t work. Volunteers cannot provide the expertise that is being lost from the department. And business will only ever be willing to sponsor the ‘cute and fluffy’ side of DOC’s work, such as breeding programmes and the like, rather than for example the pest control that underpins the survival of our most endangered species,” Kevin Hackwell says.

ENDS

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