Government biodiversity policy won’t lead to a better environment
A new Government policy aimed at protecting New Zealand’s natural environment is complex and contradictory.
“The National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB) will penalise those landowners who have done the right thing and protected and enhanced the biodiversity on their land,” says Corina Jordan, chief executive of Fish & Game New Zealand.
“It will also enable those with the deepest pockets to buy their way out of any requirements by allowing them to counterbalance the ecological damage or loss occurring in their area by carrying out conservation or restoration measures in another area. I think most New Zealanders will see this as manifestly unfair.”
While there are provisions to help restore and increase indigenous vegetation in natural inland wetlands, Fish and Game does not believe the NPSIB will adequately support catchment communities and farmers wanting to protect existing wetlands and those who want to create wetlands.
“This policy does not meet our aspirations for a constructive approach where all New Zealanders are empowered to integrate biodiversity within their landscapes and restore biodiversity where it's been lost. Ultimately, the policy is complex and contradictory, and that’s really disappointing.”
The National Policy Statement fails to recognise the creation of habitats for valued introduced species such as wetlands for gamebird hunting, says Jordan.
“This is a massive oversight as these habitats provide healthy biodiverse environments for indigenous species including flora and fauna as well as gamebird opportunities. Currently $5 from every Gamebird license goes to wetland protection, restoration, and creation.
“We are also disappointed only grey duck are included in the specified highly mobile fauna. It’s concerning that other indigenous game birds were not included within this list, nor any valued introduced species, that Fish and Game has a mandate under the Conservation Act to manage.
“We would also like to see recognition and inclusion of ‘valued introduced species’ relating to restoration projects.”
The NPSIB, rather than incentivising and supporting initiatives to create and restore biodiversity such as wetlands, actually works against it, as it turns landowners off valuing these habitats within their productive farming landscapes.
“Fish and Game wants to work in partnership with landowners and tangata whenua when decisions need to be made which could impact indigenous and introduced species, however, this policy falls well short of our expectations.”
Fish and Game is the second-largest manager of wetlands in New Zealand and actively promotes their restoration with funding raised through the sale of game bird hunting licences.