$1b For Nature, $20b Question Mark
A $1 billion investment in environmental jobs is a significant boost for New Zealand’s struggling native wildlife, rivers, wetlands, and forests but Forest & Bird isn’t calling Budget2020 a victory for people and planet just yet.
“11,000 environmental jobs is an excellent investment in people and the planet, and a major opportunity to help stop the decline of 4000 native species that are heading for extinction. But a big $20 billion question remains about whether the rest of New Zealand’s COVID response will deliver economic transformation for the people and planet,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague.
Forest & Bird is pleased money has been secured for many of the issues the organisation has put the spotlight on – such as wilding pines, wallaby control, fish passage, wetland restoration, and pest control.
"There are some good signs for our rivers and wetlands in the budget. We will be working to make sure this money is spent to good effect, rather than on shoring up unsustainable and short term projects.
“However, $1b on environmental jobs pales in comparison with an as yet an allocated $20b infrastructure fund,” says Hague. “The unspent COVID recovery funding needs to deliver nature-friendly infrastructure that cuts New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions and delivers a transformation of fishing, farming, and forestry into a genuinely sustainable primary sector.”
Fast tracking projects as part of our COVID recovery risks creating a legacy of problems for the next generation, which Forest & Bird is very concerned about.
“Any fast track RMA legislation must have strong environmental bottom lines that guarantee only projects which protect the environment can progress – projects that harm nature or cause a rise in our greenhouse gases don’t deserve to be fast-tracked.”
Hague points out there is very little detail in the budget on specific climate investment. “However, $1b for improvements to rail and ferry networks could be great news for carbon emissions, as long as the environmental impacts of corridor and harbour developments are not overlooked,” he says.