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Biodiversity process earns praise

Forest & Bird and Federated Farmers look forward to continuing to work together, and with government, on the just released proposed National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity.

Both organisations believe this is a genuine environmental breakthrough that deserves cross-party and cross-sector support.

The document, which will be released for public consultation at 8am Tuesday, 26th November, is the government’s response to two years’ collaboration between major stakeholders in managing land and looking after indigenous biodiversity, including industry, landowners, tangata whenua, and environmental non-governmental agencies.

Forest & Bird representative on the collaborative group, Jen Miller, says “Having some of the most reliably divergent stakeholders agree on a starting point for protecting native wildlife on private and public land is a huge leap forward for New Zealand.”

Federated Farmers environment spokesperson Chris Allen says “We’ve taken it as far as we can take it, the government received the report of the Biodiversity Collaborative Group, and has refined it. It is now for New Zealanders to comment on this version of the National Policy Statement.

“We support the process and have enjoyed working in a collegial and consultative environment. We’ve had genuine consultation, and this process now continues to allow all New Zealanders to have plenty of time to have their say.”

Today’s document is the third attempt at developing an NPS for New Zealand’s biodiversity – a process started more than 20 years ago.

Jen Miller says "Improving our country’s indigenous biodiversity policy framework has been a goal of successive governments for over 20 years. But they have been unable to achieve consensus on how to do this, especially outside protected areas. While New Zealand has failed to agree, our environment has continued to be degraded.”

Today, 80 per cent of native birds, 88 per cent of lizards and 100 per cent of frogs are threatened with extinction. Ecologically significant vegetation and habitat on private land is being lost at a rate comparable to pre-1840 deforestation. 31,000 ha of tussock grassland, 24,000 ha of indigenous shrubland, and 16,000 ha of indigenous forest were cleared across New Zealand in the 16 year period from 1996 to 2012. Predators and weeds introduced by humans wreak havoc. Climate change further threatens many ecosystems.

“Despite this, the new NPS also gives us a chance to find ways to acknowledge the work that has been done by farmers to preserve ecosystems on private land, and particularly we are looking for ways to get more government support for the efforts of organisations like the QEII National Trust and Landcare," Chris Allen says.

Federated Farmers and Forest & Bird would like to acknowledge the shared vision of the former National and current Labour and Green Ministers which allowed the collaborative stakeholder group to succeed in developing a draft NPS-IB.

Credit for designing and kicking off this collaborative process in 2016 must go to National’s then Minister for the Environment, Nick Smith. The group’s work was then continued and supported by Labour’s Associate Minister for the Environment, Nanaia Mahuta. Minister Eugenie Sage and officials from the Department of Conservation have also taken a close and supportive interest.

Both organisations will be reviewing the proposed NPS carefully and making submissions on any aspects that we do, and do not, support. “And we encourage our members to read it, and do the same,” Miller and Allen say.

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