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DOC Plan For Feral Deer, Pigs Misses Mark On Climate

Forest & Bird says it’s concerning that the Department of Conservation’s Wild Animal Management Framework Te Ara ki Mua fails to mention carbon emissions despite the devastation caused by out-of-control deer and pigs on New Zealand's native forests - our carbon sinks.

Nicola Toki, Forest & Bird’s Chief Executive, says, “When DOC publishes plans that talk about ‘improving the quality of game animals’ it’s clear they’ve lost their way. They need strong direction from their Minister that biodiversity and climate change must be their priorities.

“Deer, pigs and goats are wrecking native habitats and their stored carbon from the ground up. This wild animal framework should define how New Zealand’s forests, wildlife, and climate will be protected from browsing pests and how our critical carbon sinks will be looked after,” says Ms Toki.

“The Department of Conservation has a massive role in helping achieve the Government’s climate change and biodiversity plans, and yet they’re putting out a framework that totally misses the mark.

“This framework is out of touch, and inconsistent with wider government and community aims around climate change and biodiversity.Coming so soon after the Emissions Reduction Plan and the government’s commitment to nature-based solutions, it’s a glaring omission that this framework doesn’t even mention carbon despite the massive carbon damage caused by invasive deer, pigs, and goats.

“If you have introduced animals that are destroying your forests – at a cost of up to 15% of our 2018 net carbon emissions – you don’t ‘manage’ them. You treat them as threats, just like rats and possums.”

Forest & Bird, along with farmers, foresters and QEII covenant landowners, are spending millions to control these animals which are overflowing from public conservation land and threatening to destroy these efforts overnight.

“Treating New Zealand’s native forests as a free lunch for deer, pigs and goats is such a missed opportunity for wildlife and the climate, and it’s gutting for all the community groups putting in the hard yards to protect nature,” says Ms Toki.

“Forest & Bird’s local members have had to take extreme action to protect our own reserves from invading herds of feral deer spilling out of conservation land. We’ve erected a deer fence around a Hawke’s Bay reserve and employed professional hunters in our reserve in Southland.

“The Department in charge of public forests needs to do its job and put in place a framework that actually sets out how it will control the wild animals destroying our forests and undermining New Zealand’s collective efforts to tackle carbon emissions.

“All New Zealanders are being asked to do their bit to tackle climate change. We need DOC to play its part and look after our key native forest carbon sinks.”

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