In the “Statement of Intent 2007 – 2010”
New Zealanders have always placed a high value on special places and species – species such as the kiwi and places such as Fiordland received attention and protection long before most countries had any awareness of the need for nature heritage conservation. Over time that interest has broadened towards less charismatic species like the weta, less spectacular places like the small forest remnants near our cities, and less visible places such as the deep sea. The understanding of the causes of heritage loss have also matured, with increased recognition of the impacts of changes in land use, fishing, and pests and weeds, and most recently awareness of global forces such as climate change.
There is growing understanding, internationally and within New Zealand, that conservation is an investment not a cost. It protects the natural capital that fuels the economy and social well-being – freshwater quality and flow, soil nutrition and stability, climate control and other essential ecosystem services. Healthy ecosystems are the lifeblood of economic, social, spiritual and cultural well-being.
Another key shift that will help drive our work over the next three years is the shift from an expectation that the Government will do everything, to a realisation that we all have to work together. In my time as Minister the number of community initiatives for conservation has expanded rapidly, with almost every community now having a natural or historic heritage initiative under way. The next area of change will focus on the way the market intersects with the environment.
New research shows that more New Zealand consumers are demanding sustainable products, and more businesses are focused on providing for that market. I look forward to seeing more formal partnerships between my Department and the corporate world, to introduce conservation into day-to-day business management.
New Zealand will continue its world-leading conservation work in New Zealand, particularly in species recovery and pest and weed control. We have huge challenges ahead of us in areas such as species and ecosystem recovery, but our technical capacity is constantly expanding, and we have made exciting progress. With increased community involvement, we can slow and eventually halt biodiversity loss.
New Zealand is also playing a leadership role internationally, particularly in areas such as marine mammal and seabird conservation. The World Heritage Convention meeting in Christchurch this year will provide an opportunity to showcase what we are doing and send our conservation message to an international audience.
The recent Recreation Summit reminded us all that we need to expose more New Zealanders to their heritage. The Department is now working on a strategic action plan to guide work in this area. I have also announced a major new initiative to ensure that the New Zealand family camping holiday does not join our list of endangered species. And work with the Ministry of Culture and Heritage will provide new opportunities for people to understand their historic heritage.
The Government is also looking at protection issues across the whole Crown land portfolio. Tenure review will continue to deliver new high country parks, and opportunities will arise from the examination of Landcorp’s holdings. The marine protected area process and related initiatives will deliver integrated marine protection outcomes.
The values the Department is charged with protecting grow in importance as our understanding of the interrelationship between people and the natural environment increases. This Statement of Intent provides a programme for delivering core outcomes, consistent with the policies and performance expectations of the Government, while evolving capability and operations to match community needs and expectations.
Hon Chris Carter
Minister of Conservation