Forest & Bird says environmental indicator reporting today by Stats NZ is sobering, and shows how a whole-of-Government approach is needed to prevent New Zealand from remaining the extinction capital of the world.
“This is a damning report and, for all New Zealanders who love nature and want to protect it, it’s also incredibly frustrating,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Nicola Toki.
The reporting, based on assessments by expert panels under the New Zealand Threat Classification System, shows that 94 percent of our reptile species, 82 percent of bird species, 80 percent of bat species, 76 percent of freshwater fish species, and 46 percent of vascular plant species are either facing extinction or are at risk of being threatened with extinction.
“Unfortunately this trend is not new, we continue to receive reports like this again and again. Yet New Zealand is still allowing for things like intensification in dryland habitats, or destruction of waterways and the creatures that live in them,” said Ms Toki.
“Continued threats such as agricultural intensification, loss of wetlands, and biodiversity declines in waterways are not just a threat to our flora and fauna, but to our own health as well.”
“The most challenging thing is that we have a document called Te Mana o te Taiao which was held up as the answer to help statutory and policy requirements turn things around for our native wildlife.
“Instead it’s basically sitting in a cupboard somewhere because it’s not being implemented in an effective way.”
The national biodiversity strategy Te Mana o te Taiao aims to provide the overall direction for biodiversity in Aotearoa New Zealand for the next 30 years.
“We also have a National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity that’s been sitting in draft for over a decade and both Forest & Bird and Federated Farmers, for example, sat around the table and worked hard to pull that together,” adds Ms Toki.
“New Zealanders care about this more than any other country and yet we now have the highest proportion of threatened species in the world. It’s time for all of us, especially our decision makers, to show courage and to say enough of this.”
In addition to calling on all political parties to commit to effective implementation of Te Mana o te Taiao, Forest & Bird is calling for policy actions which include:
- Doubling natural wetland extent by 2050, which would increase habitat for threatened species as well as storing carbon, reducing flooding, and filtering water.
- Developing a national Room for Rivers plan, with a contestable flood mitigation fund, which would give habitat back to birds, fish and insects, while also making communities more resilient to flooding.
- Ending new mines on public conservation land, which would prevent further habitat destruction and carbon emissions from coal mining.
- Restoring and protecting native forests through new plantings and pest control, to protect carbon sinks and biodiveristy.