Big budget boost for nature

For the first time, the Department of Conservation’s Natural Heritage budget (inflation adjusted) has increased beyond 08/09 baseline levels, says Forest & Bird.

“It’s taken a decade to regain that ground, and we welcome this boost towards saving our 3000 native species in trouble,” says Forest & Bird’s CE Kevin Hague.   

The budget increase represents a 33% boost in the Natural Heritage budget over four years.

Significant increase in regular predator control

“While it was announced last weekend, it is important to recognise that this budget includes a $81 million increase over four years for sustained, baseline pest control that will lead to 1.8 million hectares of the conservation estate. This is nearly a 10 times increase on the previous baseline area that received regular predator control.”

Department of Conservation capacity building

“We absolutely support the focus on building the Department’s capacity in this budget round. DOC needs to regain the ground it has lost over the last decade, and a focus on rebuilding core staff expertise and function is vital. However, if all our 3000 threatened species are to have a good chance of being saved, the work to strengthen the Department over the next couple of years must lead to a doubling of funds for conservation operations and frontline staff,” says Mr Hague.

Conservation advocacy

This Budget will see a significant increase in DOC’s ability to speak up for nature in resource management planning and across Government.

“We have seen first hand the consequences of losing DOC’s dedicated expertise and advocacy at resource hearings and on government policy development, notably regarding the Ruataniwha land swap. When DOC is absent or compromised, nature suffers,” says Mr Hague.

“We’re relieved to see the investment in restoring DOC’s vital advocacy function. DOC employs many of the country’s preeminent ecologists and scientists, and we welcome the return of their voice in the places where decisions are made on nature’s fate.”

The Mackenzie Basin 

“We welcome the investment in a Mackenzie Basin strategy. The Mackenzie Basin is a national ecological treasure, and we look forward to working with DOC staff to protect this outstanding, threatened environment from inappropriate development and irrigation,” says Mr Hague.

RMA oversight unit

“Forest & Bird have spent many years highlighting the failures of regional and local government in environmental management. We’ve seen councils like Environment Canterbury and others fail to act on blatant and illegal environmental degradation. We will work with the Ministry for the Environment’s new RMA Oversight Unit to help ensure regional councils are consistent, rigorous, and transparent in applying the law,” says Mr Hague.

Climate change

“Climate change is our biggest challenge, and we desperately need new techniques and technology to catch up on years of climate inaction. The Green Investment Fund will help speed up the transition to a low carbon economy by helping new technologies get off the ground.”  

“The new Climate Commission will help set a long term direction in our response to climate change.  Our natural heritage will be hit hard if we don’t cut emissions and become more resilient,” says Mr Hague.