DOC’s new tourism money welcome, but needed for saving species

Forest & Bird says more funding for the Department of Conservation to deal with the impacts of tourism is a useful start, but it’s not enough and it won’t help our struggling threatened species.

“Yesterday Minister Maggie Barry released her Threatened Species Strategy, to increase the number of threatened species that DOC is managing, but that announcement came with no new money,” says Forest & Bird’s Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“The very next day, there is more money for DOC, but for toilets, carparks, huts and tracks.”

While DOC urgently needs help to cope with the enormous pressures created by the uncontrolled tourism boom, it also needs to be properly funded to do its core work, which is protecting our native wildlife and habitats.

The Minister has announced $76 million for DOC over four years, averaging $19 million a year.

“$19 million a year pales into insignificance when contrasted with the $53 million the Government is spending on a single New Zealand promotion at an Expo in Doha in 2020.”

“The Government can find the big bucks to bring more tourists here, but DOC gets chicken feed to cope with the pressures brought about by that influx.”

“The Government has no overall plan to deal with the tourism boom, and they’re now scrambling to catch up.”

“We’ve seen the same mistakes made with the rapid expansion of the dairy industry, and the resulting water crisis. With the tourism boom the Government is again prioritising volume not value, and when that happens it’s the environment that pays the price.”

Forest & Bird is also concerned that the Government is planning to introduce new Great Walks.

This will mean that New Zealanders will now be charged significant sums and will have to book in competition with tourists to get access to those areas which they presently enjoy.

“Of particular concern is the idea to work with private partners to co-fund these Great Walks.”

“This is a significant step towards privatising the conservation estate. Essentially, it’s the unpopular charter school model, brought to conservation” says Mr Hackwell.