Forest & Bird is welcoming Government plans to update conservation laws, with Chief Executive Kevin Hague saying it is time to design a system that is fit for purpose in the 21st century.
“Nature is in crisis, and protecting the forests, mountains, oceans, wetlands, and wild rivers of Aotearoa will be a crucial part of solving the climate and biodiversity crises together,” says Mr Hague.
“But for this to work, for conservation law to tackle our 21st century problems, the changes have to keep Te Mana o te Taiao the Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy at the heart of all decisions.
“It’s also important that more urgent problems are dealt with now, rather than waiting on lengthy legislative reviews. We want an immediate update to conservation laws to fulfil Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s 2017 promise to ban mining on public conservation land. For coal mining, this is especially urgent.”
The Government has signaled a timeline for review of several of the many pieces of legislation which deal with conservation issues. Improvements are intended to deal with some of the biggest emerging threats to biodiversity, such as climate change, invasive species, habitat loss, and fragmentation of landscapes and ecosystems.
“Many of the existing systems we have are inconsistent, mired by poor process, and have resulted in poor outcomes for native species,” says Mr Hague.
"We’re especially glad to see a review of the outdated Wildlife Act, and this is particularly timely given recent cases highlighting significant gaps and inadequate ability to properly protect indigenous penguins, bats, and sharks.
“Updating the Trade in Endangered Species Act will ensure New Zealand acts in line with international obligations to prevent poaching and destruction of endangered species here and overseas.”
“Improvements are also needed to ensure obligations to give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi are properly embedded throughout conservation laws and processes.
“It’s good to see the Government moving to improve protection for the Hauraki Gulf, but this area is in a dire state and will get worse without immediate action. Reforms need to include further changes, such as a complete ban on destructive trawling in the Gulf.
“Forest & Bird have been advocating for nature for nearly 100 years, and we’ve been at the heart of many conservation law decisions.
“We look forward being closely involved in these changes to make sure the laws for nature create an environment in coming decades where native bush is flourishing, the dawn chorus is deafening, treasured landscapes are protected, and Aotearoa’s coastlines are teaming with fish.”