Conservation Minister Maggie Barry congratulates the Department of Conservation (DOC) on its 30th birthday and three decades of protecting our natural heritage.

“DOC can be rightly proud of its many achievements and successes with vulnerable species since April 1 1987. The recovery of the kakapo from the brink of extinction is one example.  Numbers have gone from 50 birds in the early 1990s to now beyond 150, including a record breeding season this past year,” Ms Barry says.

“From the outset DOC has been bold, innovative and a world leader in protecting our natural heritage and providing places for New Zealanders to live, work and play.”

 “The department manages nearly a third of New Zealand’s public land or 8.5 million hectares, 44 marine reserves, 14,000 km of tracks and more than 950 huts. 48% of New Zealanders or 1.6 million people enjoy these spaces.”

“The current Director General, Lou Sanson, has ‘DOC in his DNA’ and he personifies our conservation values.  With the support of his strong senior management team - Mervyn English, Bruce Parkes, Mike Slater, Kay Booth, Christeen Mackenzie and Tata Lawton - he leads a dedicated and enthusiastic department and the staff do an outstanding job.”

“The past 30 years have been a major team effort resulting in outstanding conservation gains across communities, iwi, public and private sectors.”

“Predator Free 2050, War on Weeds and Battle for our Birds are major government initiatives led by DOC and we know we can rely on more of that great teamwork in the years ahead. That’s why I’m so confident we will be able to deliver the massive benefits of Predator Free 2050 for our threatened native species.”

“DOC will be 63 by the time New Zealand is predator free and I’m sure its rangers will still be the frontline heroes fighting for our natural heritage and vulnerable species.”

“Celebrations won’t be lavish and will be low key in the time honoured DOC tradition. We begin with a small lunchtime gathering at North Head in Devonport today for current and former staff members, friends and local community supporters.  That’ll be followed by a BBQ at Lou’s place over the weekend.” 

Key milestones for DOC over the last 30 years:

There is more conservation work being done in New Zealand that at any time in our history DOC has more work programmes across ecosystems (about 500) and threatened species (about 300) than ever before. DOC leads the Government’s Predator Free 2050 goal and the scientifically proven, successful use of 1080. Management of threatened species has reduced the level of threat for many species and has brought some back from the brink of extinction. Vast improvements in recreation management and the establishment of the Great Walks as popular outdoor experiences. Solid relationships with Treaty partners have been developed and maintained. The addition to the conservation estate of land 3 times the size of Stewart Island and the expansion of the Marine Reserves Network to encompass 44 diverse marine reserves.

Note: The Department of Conservation was formed by bringing together the conservation parts of the Forest Service, the Department of Lands and Survey and the Wildlife Service.


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