Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has welcomed the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report on saving New Zealand’s native birds and her endorsement of Predator Free 2050.
“Dr Jan Wright identifies a broad range of important matters that are key to saving our treasured native birds, and reinforces DOC is on the right track with its species protection work,” Ms Barry says.
“Species protection is a battle for all New Zealanders and the report highlights the scale of the challenges we face. That’s why we launched Predator Free 2050, the Threatened Species Strategy, Battle for our Birds and the War on Weeds, and why we’re putting more money in to conservation than ever - $107 million extra in this year’s Budget.
“There are some valuable suggestions as to where efforts should be focused and I have asked officials to look further at the recommendations around translocations and community groups, to see where improvements could be made to existing programmes, or new initiatives assessed.
“Dr Wright has suggested a nature levy on overseas visitors but we think that’s a blunt instrument. A tax on tourists could deter people from visiting New Zealand and as a Government we are not in favour of it.
“What we do support, and what we are planning to implement, is a user-pays approach, with differential charging for huts, tracks and other conservation facilities.
“Through a new booking system we can ensure overseas visitors will pay higher fees than New Zealanders who already contribute to DOC through their taxes. The revenue will be reinvested in biodiversity protection, as well as upkeep and development of facilities.
“There is more conservation work being done in New Zealand than ever and progress is being made on biodiversity issues, as evidenced by the announcement next week of a new Deputy Director-General position to oversee all DOC’s biodiversity work.
“By the end of the year the independent crown company, Predator Free 2050, will announce its first large-scale predator control project and announce its first research funding decisions.
“We’ve also leveraged $100 million from partnerships over the past 6 years for species protection, and DOC is also working across Government to develop a well-coordinated plan for Predator Free 2050 including how we target predator control to best effect.
“I am confident we can save our threatened species if we all work together and as a Government we are committed to doing that and achieving our goal of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050.”