National’s conservation agenda is a risk

Press Release – Forest And Bird

Forest & Bird media release for immediate use National’s conservation agenda is a risk The National Party’s conservation policy has some welcome proposals but would also put our natural heritage at risk, independent conservation organisation …Tuesday, November 15, 2011 – Wellington

Forest & Bird media release for immediate use

National’s conservation agenda is a risk

The National Party’s conservation policy has some welcome proposals but would also put our natural heritage at risk, independent conservation organisation Forest & Bird said today.

The conservation policy, released on Monday with no fanfare is short and says little, Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate Claire Browning said.

“The biggest threat to our conservation assets is bad policy. What we have seen so far from the National Party has undermined conservation, and this looks set to continue,” she said.

Forest & Bird welcomed a planned review of threatened species management, and a biodiversity forum to develop a pest control strategy. Introduced pests are the major threat to our native species and forests and it is crucial that pest control remain a major focus.

The proposal to revive and pass marine reserves legislation was also welcomed.

Despite rhetoric about “boosting the conservation estate”, the policy does not mention cuts to DOC staff and funding in the National-led government’s first term. Conservation goals could also be undermined by a proposal to rename conservation boards as “conservation and recreation boards”.

Claire Browning said National’s talk of opening up land to be enjoyed by New Zealanders and tourists overlooks two facts. Firstly, conservation land is already public and secondly, when mining access is allowed to conservation land, public access and the natural asset are both lost.

The policy failed to refer to the government’s promise last year to change the law, so that access to conservation land for mining would need to be publicly notified, as it is for any other business.

“We have heard rumours of National backtracking on this promise and we are asking them right now to notify the Denniston mine access application. So far, ministers have not answered our questions on this issue,” she said.

Recently introduced legislation to set up a Game Animal Council is listed in the policy as an achievement under “protecting our native species”.

“The truth is the council has nothing to do with protecting our native species. It is about politics and hunting,” Claire Browning said.

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