The Dominion Post

New strategy aims to halt decline in biodiversi­ty

- Amber-Leigh Woolf

A new Government plan wants the catch of New Zealand’s seabirds, coral and marine mammals stopped entirely by 2050.

Te Koiroa O Te Koiora – Our shared vision for living with nature claims by that deadline, New Zealand will also be free from pests and population­s of all threatened species will be on the rise.

University of Auckland Institute of Marine Science professor Mark Costello said how that research would be funded needs more discussion.

There also needed to be more airtime given to the potential establishm­ent of data to inform policy and action, Costello said.

‘‘Advice to Government needs to be based on evidence.

‘‘What I missed in the report was how we are going to quantify the state of nature’s health, and its trends,’’ he said.

‘‘Without this basic data we will not be able to accurately inform society of what the situation is, and predict the consequenc­es of inaction.

‘‘There needs to be a standardis­ed approach to data management, from routine collection of data on the abundance of species and habitat cover, to data being published in open-access databases.’’

More than 4000 native plants and animals, including the kereru¯ and the kiwi, are at risk of extinction.

This is despite a community push for conservati­on, according to a report released this year.

The new plan says by 2025 the Department of Conservati­on (DOC) hopes to halt wetland decline and have threats from climate change integrated into ‘‘species management plans’’.

By 2050, they say the decline of native ecosystems will be over, and the country will see rare habitats like wetlands, sand dunes and braided rivers growing.

The new strategy replaces Our Chance to Turn the Tide, the current biodiversi­ty strategy that has been in place since 2002.

Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research conservati­on ecologist Bill Lee said the country’s current biodiversi­ty strategy had failed.

‘‘A refresh is long overdue if we are to better protect the species and ecosystem services we value and require.’’

The new document was designed to attract public comment, but Lee questioned if it contained an ‘‘effective mix of actions’’. ‘‘Communitie­s, indigenous culture, consistent objectives across agencies, and larger incentives are rightly identified as central to achieving biodiversi­ty objectives.

‘‘However, apart from Predator Free 2050, to be successful the document needs to identify the priority actions required.’’

Niwa principal scientist Carolyn Lunquist said the document reflects the urgency New Zealand needs to reverse biodiversi­ty decline.

But the strategy would require significan­t investment in science and knowledge, and there needed to be targeted funds to achieve the goals, she said.

‘‘Investing in nature is investing in the mauri of all New Zealanders.’’

Te Tira Whakama¯ taki (Ma¯ ori Biosecurit­y Network) operations manager Tame Malcolm said the document doesn’t go far enough to clearly outline the partnershi­p central (and local) government need to have with iwi.

‘‘This is all the more important for DOC given the recent Ngai Tai decision.’’

However, the mention of the iwi environmen­tal plans was great because they were often overlooked, he said.

Conservati­on minister Eugenie Sage said New Zealand is losing species and ecosystems at a rate never seen before.

‘‘In the 750 years since humans arrived here, more than 50 native bird species have been made extinct, three frogs, at least three lizards, one freshwater fish, four plants and an unknown number of invertebra­te species.

‘‘Today more than 4000 of the native plants and wildlife are threatened or at risk of extinction.’’

It was urgent to turn this loss around, including by restoring habitats and removing invasive predators, she said.

‘‘It is valuable for its own sake and provides us with so many benefits from clean water, pollinatio­n, flood protection, food production, and the landscapes.’’

New Zealand’s biggest threats to indigenous biodiversi­ty were introduced predators, Sage said.

Habitat destructio­n such as wetland drainage, unsustaina­ble land and water use, diseases such as myrtle rust and the impacts of climate change were also harming native species, she said.

Public consultati­on on the Biodiversi­ty Strategy Discussion Document will include workshops and online submission processes and is open today and runs until 22 September.

 ?? BROOK SABIN ?? Annual data needs to be collected nationwide on all environmen­ts, including land, marine and agricultur­al, a scientist has advised.
BROOK SABIN Annual data needs to be collected nationwide on all environmen­ts, including land, marine and agricultur­al, a scientist has advised.

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