In the “Statement of Intent 2003 – 2006”
Department funding as a proportion of Government spending
The heavy weighting of funding by the Department of Conservation in protecting natural heritage is unusual for a national conservation management agency. The weight of funding in other countries lies in recreation and visitor opportunity and protection of historic places. The New Zealand emphasis is derived from this country’s ecological uniqueness, and the weed and pest threat to that uniqueness. This emphasis has been expressed in legislation and government policy. At the same time, legislation and government policy also support considerable funding on recreation and visitor use (including commercial operators) as a conditional element of nature and historic place protection, in that they provide social, economic and environmental benefit.
In biosecurity, the Department has chosen to support other lead agencies and direct its funding to combating weeds and pests which have gained entry and which are either establishing or are established.
The high level of threat to natural heritage, and the direction of resources to maintaining recreation and visitor opportunities dictate the current level of investment priority in historic sites. The Department is reviewing the requirements for maintaining a representative range of nationally significant historic sites on public conservation land.
Consideration of how much funding should go into different output classes involve relative decisions and also judgements on how much can be achieved with a given level of resources.
In the case of funding for outdoor recreation on conservation lands, the Government has decided it wishes to maintain the existing levels of recreational opportunities (but not all the facilities). It will progressively increase spending in this area over the next decade to achieve this goal.
For the protection of historic heritage, similar estimates can be made as to how many sites are conserved to what standards. Ministers can then decide on the level of conservation they think is appropriate, relative to other priorities in the culture and historic heritage sector, and to other conservation priorities.
The equations for natural heritage conservation are not yet nearly as explicit as for the outdoor recreation and historic heritage output classes. The Department is three to five years away from achieving this clarity.