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Forest & Bird Welcomes Critical Step Forward In New Zealand Conservation

Forest & Bird is welcoming recommendations out today on reclassification of stewardship land to create many new conservation parks, reserves, and national park land on the West Coast of the South Island. 

Nearly one third of conservation land in New Zealand has been held in a generic ‘stewardship land’ category, which has lower protections than other conservation land. The Government has plans to reclassify all stewardship land, and is starting with the West Coast. 

Nicola Toki, Forest and Bird Chief Executive, says: “There are many hundreds of thousands of hectares of stewardship land on the West Coast which have been in limbo since 1987. A lot of places are the last homes of some of our most threatened species and rare habitats.

“For many years this has been in the too hard basket. I’d like to acknowledge all the hard mahi done by the panels, and in particular the Ngāi Tahu mana whenua panel, to get to the point where we are today where these recommendations are being shared with New Zealanders. 

“There is work still to be done, but this is a massive step forward in helping protect nature on the West Coast.”

“This push for stewardship reclassification originated when the Prime Minister announced a policy of ‘No new mines on conservation land’ in 2017. Today’s announcement should be an important first step in delivering on this commitment.”

“Forest & Bird will be working closely with other environmental groups to look at the detail in coming weeks. The proposals need to go hand in hand with planned changes to conservation law. Protected area classifications have to be brought up to date so that they provide the protection to nature that New Zealanders would expect to see delivered in the proposed new reserves.”

Forest and Bird encourages all New Zealanders to have their say on these proposals and will be supporting this through resources on our website.

Forest & Bird has previously prepared a Stewardship Land Explainer for Journalists which answers common questions and misconceptions about public conservation stewardship land. 

F&B has long been an advocate for reclassification of stewardship land in general, and the organisation, members, and supporters have been heavily involved in advocating for greater protection of West Coast stewardship areas through issues such as: ending logging of native forest; the establishment of Te Wāhipounamu South West New Zealand World Heritage Area; the inclusion of the Mōkihinui catchment in Kahurangi National Park; listing of wetlands as significant on the regional plan; opposition to a Waitaha power scheme; and opposition to two new coal mines (Escarpment and Te Kuha) within the Mount Rochfort Conservation Area, a stewardship area on the Denniston Plateau.

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