Ministers Acknowledge Wild Things

(Published on 26th August 2015)

This years Environmental Defence Society (EDS) Conference recently took place in Auckland and attracted nearly 300 delegates along with a high profile list of speakers that included two current Cabinet Ministers, the leader of the opposition, the President of Federated Farmers, an oil industry representative and international guests.

The event entitled 'Wild Things' set out to address the growing loss of native biodiversity in New Zealand - terrestrial, freshwater and marine. The number of delegates and high profile speakers confirmed the increasing level of concern around biodiversity loss and what it means to our country.

The Minister for the Environment Dr. Nick Smith used the conference to make a number of announcements. “A key problem with the Resource Management Act is that there has been too little central government direction on major issues. We are stepping up our programme of National Policy Statements, National Environmental Standards and national guidance to get better environmental results at less cost,” Dr Smith said.

The Minister announced the Government will resource a collaborative process that will support the development of a National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity. Dr Smith suggested the Land and Water Forum provided a good model for this process.

The Minister went on to release the Ministries for the Environment and Primary Industries’ new guide on implementing the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. Dr Smith stated, "The new guide is part of the Government’s commitment to providing support for regions to implement the Government’s new policy on freshwater. It recognises the role of communities in making decisions about their freshwater resources, and it has been designed to assist local authorities to make more consistent decisions based on better evidence.”

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry announced the appointment of New Zealand’s first Threatened Species Ambassador, Nicola Toki - a role funded through the Department of Conservation (DOC) partnership with Air New Zealand. EDS Executive Director Gary Taylor gained support from the Conservation Minister for EDS to approach the Prime Minister to request additional funds to reinforce DOC's essential conservation work.

A number of science based presentations were delivered on the first day of the conference and left delegates in no doubt that New Zealand's native biodiversity is under severe pressure and change is required if we are to avoid further decline. A number of organisations can help turn this around but given the scale of the issue top level support will be needed.

NZ Landcare Trust's 'sustainability orientated' approach has a key role to play - working with communities to bring people together around projects aimed at improving water quality and supporting native biodiversity. Farmers, landowners and community groups have all responded positively to the Trust's hands-on practical approach.

This years conference highlighted three examples of the Trusts work. Firstly David Mules delivered a presentation about the Reconnecting Northland initiative where WWF-NZ and NZ Landcare Trust are working together on an innovative, multi-generational large landscape project. The Trust is primarily focussed on project delivery, with work such as the Kiwi Coast Project already making measurable progress. In addition University of Waikato PhD candidate and former NZ Landcare Trust Coordinator Monica Peters mentioned the Trust in her presentation about how to mobilise communities through citizen science - NZ Landcare Trust is set to take a significant role in this field. Finally delegates had the opportunity to pick up a recent publication entitled 'Community Urban Restoration and Education Guide' which has been designed to share NZ Landcare Trust's experiences delivering the successful Volcano to Sea project.

The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) is a not-for-profit environmental organisation comprised of resource management professionals who are committed to improving environmental outcomes. The EDS annual conference has grown to become a major event in New Zealand's environmental calendar. Find out more at





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