To: Minister of Conservation and Director-General of Conservation
Date: 12 August 2011
Section 6B of the Conservation Act 1987 identifies the Authority’s functions. Section 6B(h) reads as follows:
To advise the Minister and the Director-General annually on priorities for the expenditure of money.
The Authority considered priorities for the 2012-2015 Statement of Intent at its meeting on 23 June 2011. It did so having regard for the prevailing economic outlook and financial restraints facing the Department.
Its priorities are:
1. The protection of indigenous biodiversity at priority places with an emphasis on animal and plant pest and wild animal control
The cost of deferring pest control would most certainly result in escalated costs and further decline in the health of protected ecosystems and New Zealand’s special fauna and flora. Since pest control underpins New Zealand’s clean and green brand, we feel its contribution to the conservation economy is of greater importance than upgrading visitor facilities. Pest control has long been a priority for the Authority and continues to be so despite the current political and economic climate.
2. The protection of freshwater habitats and biodiversity
The Authority was disappointed that the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management made no provision for the protection of freshwater biodiversity. Nevertheless it recommends that the Department work closely with regional councils as they incorporate the NPS objectives into their planning documents to seek benefits for conservation as well as extractive interests.
Under its function to investigate any conservation matter of national importance (section 6B(1)(d) of the Conservation Act), the Authority will shortly send to you a discussion paper it has prepared on river protection which it hopes will be a useful contribution to the current discussion around the use of New Zealand’s freshwater resources.
3. Statutory management planning
Statutory planning has been identified as a priority by the Authority since 2005. This is because it is the means by which the community can have a say at a strategic and long-term level about how it would like public conservation resources managed by the Department.
The Authority has been delighted that progress is finally being made with updating conservation management strategies so they are fit for purpose; even though it remains concerned at the aged state of many of the national park management plans. It is therefore anxious about the news that the statutory planning capacity of the Department is being cut by 20 percent. While the Authority understands that the Department needs to make savings, it is disappointed that the Department is making such a significant reduction in this activity which engages openly and directly across so many sectors of society and provides an opportunity to consider all points of view on an equal basis.
The NZCA looks forward to seeing its advice reflected in the 2012-2015 Statement of Intent.
New Zealand Conservation Authority