“We are facing twin crises for biodiversity and the climate, and they are intrinsically linked. There are approximately 4,000 native species threatened or at risk of extinction, mainly because of introduced predators, and climate change is increasing this risk,” Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan says.
“If we want our kids and grandkids to know the wonder of a swooping Antipodean albatross or the exquisite taste of a whitebait fritter then we really have to fire up our efforts in this area.
“The Predator Free 2050 goal receives a boost with more support for inspiring community efforts across the country, and further predator eradications on offshore islands.
“There will also be more emphasis on developing innovative tools and techniques to control predators and help our indigenous species thrive. Research will look at how mātauranga Māori approaches can accelerate progress toward New Zealand becoming Predator Free.
“Budget 2022 funding will be used to boost DOC’s national predator control programme. This programme delivers increased – from 450,000 to 600,000 hectares – sustained predator control, which protects highly threatened species populations across more than 1.7 million hectares of public conservation land.
“As well as protecting species on the land, DOC will also be taking measures to reduce the risk of extinction of key marine species such as Māui dolphins and migratory seabirds.
“We want to improve our understanding of how toxoplasmosis gets into the Māui dolphin habitat and ultimately reduce the number of deaths from this disease. Funding is provided for further action to protect Antipodean albatross, Whenua Hou diving petrel and black petrel.”
There will also be support to improve localised marine protection for the Hauraki Gulf and the southeast of the South Island.
“Another key piece of work will be establishing a new national programme for deer management and goat control to help maintain forest integrity and resilience to climate change, while maintaining hunting opportunities,” Kiri Allan says.
“This programme will be delivered in partnership with the hunting sector, and provide leadership and coordination with the people, organisations and agencies involved in wild animal management. For indigenous biodiversity to thrive, the ecological impacts of goats and deer must be managed while respecting the culture, recreational and economic values that these animals may provide.”
Budget 2022 sees an additional $400m for DOC to undertake its work, which will help significantly with progressing the recently released implementation plan for the Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy, and help New Zealand achieve its future carbon goals.
Alongside that DOC will take part in a multi-agency project to maximise carbon sequestration in native forests, and will transition more of its passenger vehicles to electric.
The new funding will also ensure visitor assets, such as tracks, huts and campsites, are more resilient to natural hazards and extreme weather events, and continue to provide unforgettable experiences for international visitors as we reconnect with the world. Cultural heritage assets at DOC-managed sites, including 11 Tohu Whenua sites, will also be strengthened so that New Zealanders and overseas visitors can continue to connect with New Zealand’s most treasured heritage places.
“Outside of the COVID response and the Jobs for Nature programme, Budget 2022 represents the single largest baseline investment in conservation and biodiversity in years, demonstrating this Government’s commitment to protecting nature now and for future generations,” Kiri Allan said.