Forest & Bird give government’s Threatened Species Strategy a four out of ten

Forest & Bird has given the Government’s new Threatened Species Strategy a four out of ten, saying it will not do enough to reverse the crisis affecting New Zealand’s native species.

“New Zealand’s native wildlife is in crisis. Without an overhaul of key government agencies and a doubling of the Department of Conservation’s budget to 1% of the Government’s overall spend, we will lose many more of our native species permanently, in our lifetime,” says Forest & Bird’s Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“The proposed strategy has many worthy actions in it, but it fails to address the root causes of New Zealand's environmental crisis. The government is pursuing its business growth agenda at a huge cost to the environment and our unique species."

“Right now the policies and actions of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), are driving many of our species to extinction. They are enabling and encouraging environmental destruction, they’re captured by industry agendas and they continually fail to protect nature under their care,” says Mr Hackwell.

“It is great that the Minister of Conservation has committed to increasing landscape scale predator control. However this would only apply to 20% of our conservation forests. All of our forests need regular predator control.”

The Strategy proposes to increase the populations of 150 of the best-known species, and develop a management plan for a further 350. But there are another 370 species facing extinction, and another 2000 classified ‘at risk’, which obviously need help but will not be covered by the Strategy.

"There is scant mention in the Strategy of the plight of the large number of threatened species living on private land. The Government needs to instruct the Department of Conservation to carry out its statutory function to advocate for biodiversity on private land."

With less than 1% of our marine space protected in a reserve and many of our seabirds and marine mammals facing extinction, the Strategy fails to address the need to include our off-shore ocean in the proposed Marine Protected Areas bill, and the need for MPI to better regulate and enforce its fisheries bycatch rules.

“Our conservation estate is home to some of the world’s most remarkable plants and animals, the source of most of our swimmable rivers and lakes, and the basis of New Zealand’s international brand. It’s absurd that as a country we spend so little protecting it,” says Mr Hackwell.

“This Government has just announced a $1.5 billion surplus for the first nine months of the year. This provides a chance to properly fund the Department of Conservation. By giving them just 1% of the total national spend it would double their budget."

“Budget Day will tell us if the Government has decided to put its money where its mouth is, and provide a real future for our threatened species.”