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Independent review of NZ Biodiversity Strategy

Hon Chris Carter
Minister of Conservation

16 November 2006 Media Statement

Independent review of NZ Biodiversity Strategy launched


A review of five years of work implementing a national strategy to restore New Zealand's native biodiversity has identified significant progress, and some major challenges for the future, Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced today.

Following the review, a system to monitor and report on the state of New Zealand's species and landscapes is to be introduced, alongside national guidelines for protecting indigenous biodiversity on private land.

The NZ Biodiversity Strategy was launched in 2000 to guide the work of six government agencies and thousands of community groups around the country in halting the decline in New Zealand's biodiversity. The strategy was funded with an unprecedented five-year package totaling $187m.

"The Biodiversity Strategy marked the largest single coordinated effort to restore New Zealand's native species," Mr Carter said.

"The Labour-led government built into the strategy a five year review to assess progress, and refine areas of focus for the next five years. Independent experts, Dr Bruce Clarkson and Dr Wren Green, have conducted that review, and their findings should be of interest to anyone who cares about New Zealand's natural heritage."

The review has identified important progress in the restoration of offshore and mainland island sites, pest eradication, intensive species management, marine reserves, weed control, biosecurity, the establishment of funding and assistance for private and community groups involved in biodiversity restoration, and work with and by Maori.

But the review has also identified some significant challenges that still need to be addressed, notably the difficulty of tracking how New Zealand's native species are doing, and the complexities of how and where to expand the number of natural areas and species under intensive management on public and private land.

"The review correctly points out that the proportion of New Zealand's natural heritage under intensive management remains small despite a huge increase in the scope of work by the Department of Conservation (DOC), and some 3000 community-led conservation projects and 6000 private projects now underway," Mr Carter said.

"The challenge is to continue to build the private and public resources for conservation from as wide a range of sources as we can, and find more cost effective ways to expand the impact of conservation work.

"To assist, the government agreed in 2004-5 to retain the final year of funding for the Biodiversity Strategy, some $55m, in departmental budgets on an ongoing basis. As a result, resources for conservation have risen by more than 40 per cent since 1999.

"But if we are to achieve the Herculean task of undoing the damage done to our biodiversity, conservation must be as much of a community action, as it is a government one," Mr Carter said.

"With this in mind, the government will provide a statement to local authorities, communities and private landowners identifying the types of ecosystems and habitats on private land that are the most threatened, and the most in need of protection.

"This statement of priorities is due early next year, and will form part of broader guidance to local authorities and land owners about biodiversity protection, including the mechanisms available to achieve it.

"As the Biodiversity Strategy review observes, it is crucially important we continue to refine conservation work on both public and private land. To achieve this we need good information," Mr Carter said.

"One of the complexities of monitoring species and the impact of conservation work is how to do it when it is practically impossible to go out and count every bird in every forest in every corner of the country," Mr Carter said.

"To tackle this problem, DOC is developing a new management system to build a national inventory of New Zealand's natural heritage. Once the system is fully operational, staff will use field computers to add biodiversity information they observe on location to standardised national databases. From these databases we will be able to build a much more detailed picture of what is going on with our species.

"I'm confident these new initiatives and others under development will enhance the significant progress already made in the past five years, and take us closer still to the Biodiversity Strategy's goals," Mr Carter said.

ENDS

Copies of the Biodiversity Strategy Review can be found at www.doc.govt.nz

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