“Our birds don’t stand a chance without adequate funding.”
National is failing to invest adequately in conservation to stop New Zealand’s biodiversity crisis, the Green Party says.
Budget 2014 continues National’s neglect of conservation spending to protect our native plants, wildlife, and wild landscapes. National has cut Department of Conservation (DOC) funding to manage our natural heritage despite the beech mast year and predicted explosion in stoats and rats in South Island beech forests.
Budget 2014 cuts DOC’s spending on natural heritage management by at least $4.6 million from $164.9 m in 2013/14 to $160 m in 2014/15. Having to provide for rising costs from superannuation, wages, and inflation means the real impact of National’s cuts will be even more severe.
“National’s Budget cuts to natural heritage management will leave more of our loved native species vulnerable to predation and weeds,” said Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage.
“There is no new funding to allow DOC to control rats and stoats over the 613,000 hectares it proposes as part of its Battle for Our Birds programme to help vulnerable birds such as mohua and kaka. They don’t stand a chance without adequate funding.
“National can find an extra $40 million to subsidise more irrigation and pollution of our rivers and lakes but can’t find the money to protect our mohua and kaka.
“New Zealand’s native plants and wildlife are suffering from National’s slow dismantling of what was once a world class conservation agency.”
Ms Sage was also concerned that DOC budget cuts would inevitably lead to other important conservation work – such as the control of invasive weeds or marine protection – suffering as DOC diverts funds to do triage on growing rat and stoat populations.
“Budget documents show that DOC expects to reduce the area of land subject to sustained weed control by 143,000 ha. in 2014/15 to 1.36 million hectares,” Ms Sage said.
“New Zealand is already one of the weediest countries in the world, with weeds making up more than half of the plant species found here and many rapidly expanding their ranges once established.
“The Green Party in Government would ensure that our most loved wild places are protected by adequate funding of DOC. We will restore our dawn chorus.
“There are also good jobs for people on the conservation frontline fighting weeds and introduced predators.”