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Forest & Bird is urging the National Party to rethink many of its conservation policies, which will let pests run rampant on conservation land, allow grazing in precious high country areas supposed to protect native species, and weaken National Park protections.

Kevin Hague, Chief Executive of Forest & Bird says: “Our wellbeing depends on the health of our natural world, but New Zealand’s environment is at breaking point. We need nature, but first nature needs us to protect it.

“There are some good aspects to National’s policies, but there are some very poorly thought through policies that will cause harm to our native plants and animal species.  

“Forest & Bird welcomes the National Party’s proposal for two new National Parks and its ongoing support for the Predator Free 2050 goal.  National adopted the Predator Free 2050 goal when last in Government and we are pleased they are staying the course. It will be vital to keep increasing DOC’s funding so it is able to do this important job.

“But it is disappointing to see them rollout the tired fiction of seeking a ‘balance’ between commercial interests and nature, when nature has very clearly been outweighed at every opportunity. Almost 4000 of New Zealand’s native species including kiwi, kākāpō, kōkako, Māui dolphin and yellow-eyed penguins are threatened with extinction - that is nearly every fish, frog and bird.

“It is well past time to put nature first, and it would have been good for the National Party to show it understands the urgency of the situation.

The National Party's key conservation policies released today include:

  • Amend the National Park management plans to allow for more recreational and commercial activities.
  • Provide an opportunity for limited grazing on Crown pastoral lease land that has been through tenure review.
  • Utilise expertise from the professional and recreational hunting community, including the Game Animal Council, in the control of tahr, wallaby and other game animals.

“When tahr control was left to hunters, they failed miserably to restrict numbers to 10,000 and keep them out of National Parks. Some of our National Parks have come to resemble hunting estates more than anything else. It defeats the point of creating new national parks if they are just going to become new places for business to make a profit and for pests to run rampant.

“Farmers, foresters, and conservationists have only recently convinced the Government to fund wallaby control – how will National prevent their population from getting out of control as well?

“New Zealanders have handed over millions in taxpayers dollars and privatised land to high country lessees through tenure review as a way of protecting mountain lands from grazing.  Allowing those protected lands to be grazed again, after millions of dollars and large areas of land have been handed over, would be a moral and environmental outrage.

“We welcome National’s position of ‘strict enforcement of existing conservation rules to ensure sustainability and the continued recovery of our native species’ but it needs to explain if this means they support DOC’s control of tahr to get numbers under control."

Note: Forest & Bird is politically independent. During the election period Forest & Bird will praise party political policies that are good for nature and highlight the problems with policies that are bad for nature.

Forest & Bird urges all political parties to adopt Policies for Recovery, our plan to tackle the crisis affecting nature in New Zealand.

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