Cuts to the Department of Conservation (DOC) have hurt Dunedin. The National Government’s promise to “cut bureaucracy and preserve front-line jobs” rang hollow here. In our town six front-line DOC workers were cut this year.
DOC currently manages about a third of New Zealand’s land mass with a budget roughly the same size as that of the Hamilton City Council. They contribute to our clean, green brand – but are very thinly stretched.
So what would Labour do differently? Well, our conservation policy has been announced. In short: we’re going to invest more in the Department of Conservation as well as in the volunteer communities that support our conservation efforts.
Besides investing in people, significant projects are proposed:
– Labour aims to have 30 per cent of our marine area in some form of protection by 2020 – both in the territorial sea (out to 12 nautical miles) and the exclusive economic zone or EEZ (a further 200 nautical miles).
– The NZ biodiversity strategy will be properly reviewed, and findings implemented.
– The water conservation orders, recently undermined by National, will be built up again.
– Labour will strengthen the National Policy Statement for Renewable Electricity Generation 2011.
– And with Labour there will be no mining of national parks. Labour has always opposed mining on Schedule 4 land. Its status will be simplified and strengthened, providing certainty for all interests.
Our environment is critical to our identity as New Zealanders. And beyond that, Labour appreciates the economic value of our clean, green brand. Clever policies which enhance our conservation estate are good for our own enjoyment and our future prosperity. Labour will do plenty more. Details will be on Labour’s policy page soon. In the meantime, some bullet points from the press release below:
-Continue to encourage private sector investment in conservation projects;
-Resource weed and integrated pest control on public conservation land to protect threatened species, ecosystems and significant landscapes;
-Promote predator-free island sanctuaries, and be vigilant in protecting them;
-Continue to make additions to land held for public conservation through dedicated funds (e.g. the Nature Heritage Fund);
-Begin a systematic classification of stewardship land;
-Formally investigate adding the Mokihinui river area to Kahurangi National Park;
-Pursue iwi, local government, community and corporate partnerships for conservation projects, reviewing DOC’s role in the Treaty settlement process;
-Encourage private landowners to protect conservation values on their land;
-Reinstate the Enviro-Schools programme;
-Target school-leavers who are contemplating working in the conservation sector;
-Develop new camping grounds as opportunities arise;
-Implement a phase-out of unsustainable fishing methods;
-Prohibit shark finning;
-Recommit to the Antarctic Treaty system, and act as an international advocate for the protection of the Antarctic ecosystem from mineral or other inappropriate exploitation.