New Government funding will see the Department of Conservation invest an extra $76 million over the next four years to address New Zealand’s biodiversity crisis.
“More than 4000 of our native plants and wildlife are threatened or at risk of extinction,” said Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage.
“In the 750 years since humans arrived in New Zealand, more than 50 native bird species have gone extinct, three frogs, at least three lizards, one freshwater fish, four plants and an unknown number of invertebrate species.
“On land the main threats to native species and their habitats are introduced predators such as possums, rats and stoats, habitat destruction such as wetland drainage, water pollution and changed river and stream flow regimes, diseases such as myrtle rust and the impacts of climate change. In the oceans, fisheries bycatch and over-fishing affect seabirds and marine mammals.
“Where there has been focused management and investment in recovery programmes the threat status of 22 bird species, including rowi, takahē and mōhua, has improved. For example, the rowi or Okarito brown kiwi population has more than doubled since the start of the Operation Nest Egg programme in 1994.
“But far more numerous are native plant and wildlife species that continue to decline or are just hanging on, which is why this investment is so desperately needed.”
The funding was allocated as part of Budget 2018 but depended on a detailed business case being completed and approved by the Ministers of Conservation and Finance.
The new funding will see:
Better protection of priority ecosystems - with work on 70% of the top 850 sites, up from 17% of sites.
An increase in the number of actively managed freshwater catchments – up from 2.5 % to 9.5% of 200 priority catchments.
An increase in the number of fully managed marine reserves- up from 25% to 41% of marine reserves which will include improved monitoring and enforcement.
Better management of marine species - with increased liaison with the fishing industry to reduce bycatch and improve management of priority migratory fish species in priority sites.
More research to develop more effective approaches to marine protection and the establishment of new marine protected areas.
Improved understanding on species decline - with the aim of increasing by 3% the number of threatened species being actively managed.
An additional six islands protected from pest incursions.
Recovery of fragile alpine ecosystems through the control of Himalayan tahr.
Four priority freshwater pests, such as koi carp, being contained at 30% of priority sites.
A reduction of invasive aquatic plants at more sites.
National monitoring of the state of freshwater biodiversity at 150 sites each year.
A doubling of DOC’s advocacy work under the Resource Management Act to protect threatened species and ecosystems.
“Today’s announcement which includes more funding to protect marine reserves, is a chance to highlight the theme of SeaWeek 2019 Tiakina o Tatou Moana – Care for our Seas.
“The funding will enable more marine reserve compliance and law enforcement work for seven marine reserves this year and enable two research projects to help better protect our marine areas.
“In addition to the new money, work is progressing on developing a new national strategy for biodiversity to help our rich and unique indigenous wildlife and natural landscapes thrive.
“The Department of Conservation is working closely with other government agencies, iwi, local councils, industry groups and community organisations. A discussion document will be released for public submissions later this year,” said Eugenie Sage.