NZ’s native bird situation ‘desperate’
New Zealand’s native bird species are in a ‘‘desperate situation’’ and more must be done to stop their decline, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment says.
About 80 per cent of native bird species were in trouble and some were at risk of extinction, Dr Jan Wright said in a new report.
Her report, Taonga of an Island Nation: Saving New Zealand’s Birds, makes seven recommendations to the Government.
Among them is to investigate imposing a levy on tourists to better fund conservation work. She urged an action plan for widespread predator control and better co-ordination of volunteer groups.
New Zealand has 168 native bird species, 93 of which are endemic, found nowhere else. The United Kingdom, for comparison, has one endemic bird.
A third of all native birds were in ‘‘serious trouble’’ and nearly half ‘‘in some trouble’’. Only one in five species was doing OK, Wright said.
She said some of our most unique endemic birds – kea, wrybill, and whio – were seriously threatened.
The greatest pressures came from introduced predators such as possums, stoats, rats and feral cats. Predator control measures such as 1080 poison were effective and made a serious difference, but came at a high cost.
Recouping money for biodiversity was vital. She recom- mended the Government investi- gate a nature levy.
‘‘It kind of reinforces the idea that this is why people come here. Wilderness is becoming scarcer and scarcer worldwide – and with scarcity comes value,’’ she said.
‘‘When it comes to biodiversity, if you haven’t got enough money, you just don’t do stuff. I worry as this tourist pressure grows, more of that money goes towards infrastructure and services than preserving what they came to see.’’
The Government’s Predator Free 2050 goal was commendable, but it came with little detail. It relied on technological breakthroughs and, while the science was promising, it may involve sensitive issues such as genetic engineering.
‘‘We cannot wait for long-term breakthrough science before stepping up predator control. If we do, the patient will die before the hospital is built.’’
Kea, the world’s only alpine parrot and among the most intelligent known bird species, is in trouble.