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Nature-based Solutions Welcomed In New Climate Strategy – But Short On Detail

Forest & Bird says including nature-based solutions in the Government’s climate strategy is a win for nature – and common sense.

Nature-based solutions, which the Society has long advocated for, make up one of five pillars in a new climate strategy announced today by Climate Change Minister Simon Watts.

Forest & Bird have noted that while a climate strategy is a welcome and necessary step, the lack of detail on the three-page document is concerning.

It also fails to address the need to cut actual emissions.

“The country's climate goals won't be met as long as the government prioritises digging up more coal, fast-tracking mines, and environmentally damaging developments,” says Nicola Toki, Chief Executive.

“We need to see joined-up thinking across the whole of government. The Climate Change Minister can take a lead role in driving real emissions reductions across portfolios.

“It is difficult to see how credible markets are going to play a role when major polluters are getting free carbon credits and agriculture gets a free pass.

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“The five pillars are accompanied by three ‘aspirational’ bullet points relating to the core goal, but these are frustratingly broad,” she says.

For nature-based solutions, these bullet points are:

  • Homes and communities are better protected against climate change through restored habitats and ecosystems
  • Businesses have more options to reduce the impact of their emissions
  • More native forests can be found in our environment.

“Some of these bullet points actually contradict the Government’s stated plans for Resource Management Act (RMA) reform,” Ms Toki says. “For example, these reforms would weaken wetland protection. The government is also removing current provisions that protect Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) of indigenous vegetation and habitats of indigenous fauna.

“It is great to see the government identifying nature-based solutions as key work in the strategy. For these to be successful, there must be significant investment in controlling feral deer, goats and pigs, otherwise they will undo efforts to restore forests and other natural areas. We see no reference to this in the strategy,” Ms Toki says.

There is also no reference to funding, firm goals, a timetable, or mention of managed retreat from coastal areas where communities are increasingly vulnerable to flooding.

The lack of detail in the pillar is a missed opportunity, Forest & Bird believes, given several ongoing Government workstreams and proposals where nature-based solutions could be incorporated.

Examples of relatively simple, actionable objectives that could link up nature-based solutions with existing work include:

  • Aligning the 30-year National Infrastructure Plan with the National Adaptation Plan
  • Ensuring the National Infrastructure Agency, when established, prioritises funding and projects that utilise nature-based solutions
  • Aligning a new framework for infrastructure investment with the National Adaptation Plan

Introducing the National Policy Statement for Natural Hazard Decision-Making, which includes direction to prioritise nature-based solutions in decisions.

Both the recent investment of money into regional council flood protection work – some of which include nature-based solutions – and the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee inquiry into managed retreat are further examples of opportunities to connect the strategy to the Government’s wider work.

Forest & Bird looks forward to providing further input when the government consults on its Emissions Reduction Plan for 2026–2030, which Minister Watts has announced will begin within the next two weeks.

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