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Our Environment: Issue 23 Winter 2000

Our Environment: Christchurch City Council's Environmental Newsletter

Move to halt the decline of New Zealand's indigenous biodiversity

The Government will spend an extra $187 million over the next five years to support the implementation of the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy.

Launched in April this year, the strategy establishes national goals to halt the decline of our biological diversity. They include maintaining and restoring a full range of our remaining natural habitats and ecosystems and viable populations of all native species.

More than one thousand of our known animal, plant and fungi species are at risk of extinction. If future trends continue, many populations of the kiwi, a symbol of our national identity, will also be effectively extinct within 20 years.

The new package sets aside an extra $10 million to create five kiwi sanctuaries covering more than 40,000 hectares at Okarito, Haast, the western North Island, Coromandel and in Northland. This boost to the Kiwi Recovery Programme will help ensure populations are retained on the mainland. It will also enable more New Zealanders to see their national bird in its natural habitat.

Over the next five years the Government will also spend:

  • $57 million on controlling animal pests and weeds on public conservation lands;
  • $37 million on increasing funds available to protect and maintain biodiversity on private land through the Nature Heritage Fund, Nga Whenua Rahui, the QEII National Trust and a new fund for ongoing management;
  • $11.5 million on increasing the number of marine reserves around New Zealand and providing for their management;
  • $9.8 million on improving the protection of the marine environment form invasive marine species;
  • $14.1 million on researching New Zealand’s marine biodiversity, leading to better management;
  • $2.6 million for the development of a comprehensive biosecurity strategy for New Zealand and the assessment of biosecurity risks to indigenous flora and fauna;
  • $2.35 million to increase iwi and hapu participation in managing biodiversity in ways that are consistent with customary knowledge, and the knowledge remaining the property of the particular iwi or hapu.

Biodiversity refers to the diversity of plants and animals and the place they live. The 1997 Report on the State of New Zealand’s Environment identified the decline of our indigenous biodiversity as the country’s most pervasive environmental issue. The Biodiversity Strategy, in response, establishes the strategic framework for action to conserve and sustainable use and manage biodiversity. The new funding package will enable key aspects of the strategy to be implemented.

For example, further applications to the Nature Heritage Fund, Nga Whenua Rahui and QEII National Trust can be processed. Twenty five cases covering 56,000 hectares valued at $7.3 million are considered priority purchases. The funding will also speed up the creation of marine reserves, leading to the protection of a wider range of marine ecosystems and biodiversity. At present only 4 per cent of our territorial sea, including the far north Kermadec Islands, is protected in marine reserves. The Biodiversity Strategy set a target of protecting 10 per cent of New Zealand’s marine environment by 2010.

The strategy was prepared by the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for the Environment, assisted by a number of other government departments.
(For a copy see or email (

The Prime Minister said earlier this year that the strategy’s implementation would be co-ordinated and monitored by a core ministerial team led by the the Minister of Conservation and Local Government, and including the Ministers of Environment, Biosecurity, Fisheries and Agriculture.

As well as a co-ordinated effort at both central and local government levels, implementation also required “buy- in” from the farming, forestry, horticulture, fishing and tourism sectors, from private owners and from iwi.


Many of the concerns explored in the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy are addressed in Bio-What?, a preliminary report of the Ministerial Advisory Committee. It is specifically concerned with the effects of private land management on indigenous biodiversity.

The committee calls on the Government to implement a package of policy initiatives including:

  • A national biodiversity accord (with a separate accord for iwi);
  • A national policy statement under the RMA;
  • Non- statutory guidance to assist with implementation of biodiversity aspects of the RMA;
  • Other related services including information systems, education and incentive schemes, which should be at least partially Government funded;
  • Assistance to local communities with the development of local accords.

Achieving these goals would not result from forced compliance or from increased public funding alone. Impact on private land management must depend largely on understanding, acceptance and informed decision making by individuals, companies and public agencies. It will take the combined resources and co- operation of all these to halt the decline in New Zealand’s biodiversity, the report said.

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