|Our Environment: Issue 23 Winter 2000|
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:
Biodiversity refers to the diversity of plants and animals and the place they live. The 1997 Report on the State of New Zealands Environment identified the decline of our indigenous biodiversity as the countrys 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 Zealands 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.
The Prime Minister said earlier this year that the strategys 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:
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 Zealands biodiversity, the report said.
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