Northland forests are disappearing under National’s watch as a direct result of their long-term conservation budget cuts, the Green Party said today.
The National Government has cut $376 million from the Department of Conservation’s (DOC) budget in real terms over the last seven years. DOC has 16 percent less in real terms this year compared to 2008 to fight the pests and predators that are destroying New Zealand’s natural heritage.
“National’s cuts to conservation are quietly killing our native forests,” said Green Party conservation spokesperson Kevin Hague.
“Since 2008, DOC has had $376 million less to do its core work of protecting and restoring our native forests.
“The Government has left Northland’s forests vulnerable to attack from possums, stoats, and rats every night.
“Our forests are literally disappearing because of the National Government’s disinterest in conservation or the need to investment in a long-term, multi-pest control programme.
“We’re losing short-tailed bats, northern Rata, and kukupa (wood pigeon) in the Far North due to National’s conservation cuts. But it’s also a story that is happening all over the country.
“Maggie Barry, Minister of Conservation, was unable to answer my straight forward questions in the House on Tuesday about funding levels for multi-pest control operations in Northland.
“The reason is because currently only 2,000 of the 116,000 hectares of native forest managed by DOC in Northland are covered by multi-pest control operations. That’s less than two percent of Northland’s great forests protected at the levels that they need to be.
“The Green Party will restore real levels of government funding for DOC’s essential work so that they, and the communities they serve, can protect our native forests and the precious birds that live there,” said Mr Hague.