Fo­cus on tourism and con­ser­va­tion

Hamilton Press - - CONVERSATIONS - TIM MACINDOE

As a fam­ily, we en­joy and ap­pre­ci­ate the great out­doors, in­clud­ing some won­der­ful day trips in our wider re­gion, and we loved tramp­ing the beau­ti­ful Hea­phy Track over the new year hol­i­day.

We have en­joyed meet­ing many vis­i­tors to our coun­try in the process and ob­serv­ing their sense of won­der at New Zealand’s stun­ning land­scapes, na­tive bush and wildlife, which at­tract thou­sands of tourists to our shores each year. This is great news for our econ­omy, but to help sus­tain this growth we must in­vest in the con­ser­va­tion ar­eas that make vis­it­ing so ap­peal­ing.

Bud­get 2017 con­tin­ues the Gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to Preda­tor Free 2050 with a range of spe­cific ini­tia­tives to pro­tect and re­store threat­ened species, fight kauri dieback, in­crease preda­tor, pest and weed con­trol and ma­rine pro­tec­tion, as well as re­spond to tourism growth.

The Gov­ern­ment is in­vest­ing $76 mil­lion through the re­cent Bud­get in new and up­graded tourism in­fra­struc­ture for the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion (DOC). This fund­ing boost is part of a $178 mil­lion tourism in­fra­struc­ture pack­age.

The new fund­ing will al­low DOC to man­age the im­pact of vis­i­tor growth bet­ter, while also pro­tect­ing our bio­di­ver­sity and threat­ened species.

The DOC es­tate is a well­known, much loved as­set. With the new fund­ing, DOC will be able to up­grade and de­velop tourist fa­cil­i­ties, as well as ex­pand the Great Walks network.

The Great Walk net­works of pre­mier multi-day tracks al­low vis­i­tors safely to ac­cess and en­joy our spec­tac­u­lar and di­verse land­scapes. It will soon be ex­panded with two new Great Walks.

We will also de­velop a network of Great Short Walks and Great Day Walks. This will give peo­ple more op­tions to en­joy our beau­ti­ful parks and con­ser­va­tion ar­eas.

De­vel­op­ing new lo­ca­tions will ease pres­sure on tourism hotspots, shift aware­ness to paths less well trav­elled, and bet­ter share the re­gional eco­nomic ben­e­fits of tourism.

We are not only work­ing to en­hance the qual­ity of vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence for do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors, but also to sup­port and pro­tect our cap­ti­vat­ing nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment and na­tive species.

In ad­di­tion to the $76 mil­lion, the Gov­ern­ment has also an­nounced $21.3m for Bat­tle For Our Birds. The fund­ing will help DOC fight an in­crease in rat and stoat num­bers caused by this year’s beech for­est mast.

Bat­tle For Our Birds is part of the gov­ern­ment’s am­bi­tious Preda­tor Free 2050 goal to pro­tect our nat­u­ral trea­sures for in­tro­duced killers.

There is also $2.8m for a sea lion threat man­age­ment plan, and the first ever Threat­ened Species Strat­egy has been re­leased.

DOC is spend­ing more than ever be­fore on nat­u­ral heritage and recreation work.

HAVE YOUR SAY

Hamil­ton Press wel­comes let­ters and opinion ar­ti­cles to its Con­ver­sa­tions page. Let­ters must be about 200 words and opinion ar­ti­cles about 400 words. Please send in your con­tri­bu­tions by noon, Fri­days, to: kel­ley.tantau@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz

Hamil­ton West MP Tim Macindoe.

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