DOC job cuts even worse than thought

Forest & Bird is disappointed that even more Department of Conservation jobs will be lost than expected. 

A critically endangered species? DOC workers on Raoul island. Photo: Karen Baird

A critically endangered species? DOC workers on Raoul island. Photo: Karen Baird

DOC plans to cut 140 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, subject to a two-week consultation period. This follows the loss of 96 full-time jobs last year.

More than 10 per cent of DOC’s 1700-1800 full time equivalent positions have been lost in the last 12 months alone.

“DOC is trying its best, but it’s under enormous pressure from the Government, which continually undervalues New Zealand’s natural capital, and the role of the Department,” says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“DOC has had $54 million slashed from its budget since 2009. Operations have been scaled back, and there’s been a round of job cuts every year for several years now,” Kevin Hackwell says.  

Twenty-two of the positions lost this year will be rangers; 118 positions are described as those of “project managers”. 

“John Key’s distinction between so-called ‘frontline’ and ‘management staff’ is misleading, especially when it comes to departments like DOC. Just about everyone in DOC goes into the field to work on a project from time to time,” Kevin Hackwell says. 

“Make no mistake; these cuts will mean fewer people checking traps, measuring freshwater quality, monitoring endangered native birds and picking up rubbish in our national parks. 

“Many of the people losing their jobs today will have been with DOC for a long time. DOC will lose a huge amount of institutional knowledge once these people walk out the door, around things like how to control predators in our forests,” says Kevin Hackwell. 

It has been reported that the number of RMA hearings DOC made representations on fell from 98 in 2011 to just 48 in 2012.

“The Government’s spending billions on what it understands - irrigation dams, deep sea oil, and roads. It needs to realise that the work DOC does is crucial to what makes New Zealand such a great place to live,” Kevin Hackwell says. 

DOC manages about a third of New Zealand’s land area – about eight million hectares.