Threatened wildlife the winner if National Policy Statement on Biodiversity succeeds

Forest & Bird is cautiously optimistic that the development of a National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity will help New Zealand’s struggling native wildlife, and streamline the process of protecting the environment.

New Zealand has 985 threatened species and another 2772 at risk (Photo by Craig McKenzie).

Minister for the Environment Nick Smith announced today that core stakeholders have been invited to meet over the next 18 months and collaboratively work on a National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity.

A National Policy Statement (NPS) is a statutory document that guides and directs the contents of regional and district plans. All regional and district plans must give effect to the policy.

“New Zealand is facing a biodiversity crisis. We have 985 threatened species, and another 2772 at risk. A National Policy Statement would give better biodiversity outcomes by setting clear objectives around how New Zealand’s native plants and animals should be protected” says Jen Miller, Forest & Bird Regional Conservation Manager.

Forest & Bird has been pushing for the development of a NPS to protect biodiversity for many years and believe it will make the process of defending nature under the Resource Management Act more efficient for conservationists, landowners and local government.

“The New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement is a good example of how a NPS for biodiversity could work. Since it was implemented, we have seen real improvements in policies and rules for New Zealand’s coastal environment.”

“Currently, there’s little incentive for Councils to ensure their plans protect significant native habitat and maintain native biodiversity.”

“We hope that will change with the development of a NPS that tackles difficult issues around biodiversity on private land, and sets a clear requirement for better environmental outcomes”.

“This is just the start of the process and we’re hopeful it will achieve success. But that depends on the extent to which stakeholders are willing to tackle issues and set policy that is then implemented by Government and councils” says Miller.

Notes:

All our endemic marine mammal, frog and most endemic bat species are threatened or face extinction, as are 81% of our resident bird species and 88% of our reptiles. And the risk of extinction for some species continues to rise.

The Environment Court has established significant case law on protecting nature under the RMA as a result of cases taken by Forest & Bird