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Biodiversity Loses Out Due To New Legislation

Biodiversity will be the biggest loser if the Government’s new legislation announced last week is passed, claims rural lobby group Groundswell NZ.

“The more landowners do to look after biodiversity, the more they are penalized with rules, bureaucratic interference, and costs,” says Groundswell NZ’s environmental spokesperson Jamie McFadden.

“This ill-conceived legislation turns biodiversity into a liability and is a smack in the face for thousands of landowners that have been proactive in protecting and enhancing biodiversity on their land. It is a disincentive for anyone wanting to do the right thing for the environment.”

For the past 23 years McFadden has been at the forefront of the biodiversity effort in Canterbury with an eco-sourced, native plant nursery and environmental restoration business inspiring thousands of projects.

“It is so disappointing to see a Labour/Greens Government fail to recognize that having motivated, empowered landowners is fundamental to protecting biodiversity on private land,” he says.

The cornerstone of the new legislation is the mandatory requirement for councils to assess all land in their districts to identify Significant Natural Areas (SNAs). Southland District Council has previously estimated the cost to undertake this to be $18 million.

“And not one cent of this goes into helping biodiversity - it is just a box ticking exercise and a massive state-control land grab,” McFadden says.

“The Government is hypocritical to demand landowners protect biodiversity when their own climate change policies have already caused the loss of thousands of hectares of unique native shrublands from conversion to pine forests. This Government doesn’t care for the environment. They care more about control and looking good on the world stage by achieving performative targets.”

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Groundswell NZ are promoting an alternative solution, based on the QEII Trust covenants, that partners with landowners.

“Another key difference with the QEII Trust model is it focuses on the threats to biodiversity rather than assessing significance. Therefore, money and resources are directed where it is needed – on the ground.”

Groundswell NZ are continuing their Say No campaign which calls on landowners to refuse SNA assessments until the legislation instils biodiversity as an asset and respects conservation efforts and private property rights.

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