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On Thursday March 28 Forest & Bird lodged an application for judicial review of an agreement between the Director General of Conservation and the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation. Forest & Bird considers that the agreement does not comply with the National Parks Act 1980.

Forest & Bird has a constitutional role to take all reasonable steps within the power of the Society for the preservation and protection of the indigenous flora and fauna and the natural features of New Zealand.

Fiordland National Park forms part of Te Wāhipounamu – South West New Zealand World Heritage Area, which covers 2.6 million hectares (almost 10% of New Zealand’s total land area). It is recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as the largest and least modified area of New Zealand’s natural ecosystems and the world’s best intact modern representation of the ancient biota of Gondwana.

The National Parks Act 1980 prioritises the protection of our indigenous ecosystems over introduced species. The agreement is inconsistent with the Act because it provides for herd management of an introduced species within the national park. This is not consistent with the requirements of the Act. Forest & Bird also considers that the agreement does not comply with other parts of the Act and the relevant statutory planning documents.

Forest & Bird is a strong supporter of a diverse range of conservation approaches. We welcome the mahi undertaken by the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation and other organisations who contribute to protecting New Zealand’s most precious places. Hunting is part of the toolbox in tackling the out-of-control numbers of browsing animals that are causing significant damage to New Zealand’s environment. Forest & Bird is supportive of the role the hunting community can and does play in helping to stem the tide of deer, pig and goat numbers.  

However, we are equally clear that hunting needs to take place in a way that is consistent with the law. That is why this judicial review has been lodged. We feel it is essential that the Department of Conservation supports the hunting community, in this instance the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation, by ensuring that any agreement it enters in to is in keeping with the law.

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