The Department of Conservation (DOC) is warmly welcoming the extension of its partnership with Air New Zealand through to 2020.
The extension to the existing partnership was announced today by Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon at an event for business leaders in Auckland where the airline unveiled its Sustainability Framework.
Air New Zealand’s support is worth the equivalent of $1 million to DOC annually and will allow the continuation of key biodiversity projects and conservation initiatives.
"This is great news because the work we’re doing together is benefiting both conservation and our economy, by boosting tourism," says DOC Director-General Lou Sanson.
"DOC’s partnership with Air New Zealand was launched in April 2012, and has been so successful that this is the second time it’s been extended. The success of the partnership is down to the fact that both parties recognise that our natural environment is what makes New Zealand so unique," says Lou Sanson.
Conservation gains achieved through the partnership to date include Air New Zealand flying more than 1500 threatened native animals - including kiwi, kakapo, takahe and tuatara - to new homes as part of DOC’s work to ensure the survival of these species. These native birds and other animals have been flown for free on Air New Zealand’s regular passenger flights.
Air New Zealand has also funded programmes to control predators - such as stoats, rats and possums - in areas alongside four of DOC’s Great Walks.
"This has helped the native forest to recover and enabled DOC and Ngai Tahu to release kiwi and South Island robins alongside the Rakiura Track on Stewart Island. Pāteke beside the Milford Track. And whio beside the Routeburn. We’re working with Tuhoe alongside the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk on a similar conservation project," says Lou Sanson.
The partnership’s economic gains have come from Air New Zealand promoting DOC’s nine Great Walks through its marketing channels. This has produced a 31% increase in the number of people staying overnight in huts and campsites, on the Great Walks, since the partnership began three years ago.
Air New Zealand has also funded research in DOC managed marine reserves, that’s providing a greater understanding of how marine ecosystems work. The airline is also marketing 10 marine reserves as holiday destinations through its Coastal Gems promotion.
Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says: "We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved with DOC in the three years since we launched this partnership whether it be boosting Great Walks visitor numbers, enabling the transfers of endangered species via our domestic network or supporting vital biodiversity projects taking place in and around some of the country’s Great Walks."
"We are very much committed to this partnership and believe it’s important that we commit to these biodiversity projects and conservation work over the long term to ensure they have the financial surety to reach their potential and deliver maximum benefit. We are excited about the work we’ll be doing with DOC and iwi in the next five years," says Mr Luxon.
"We also recognise the value of our growing relationship with iwi. This is adding another important dimension to the partnership. We’re enjoying working with Ngai Tahu in our conservation work alongside the Rakiura, Milford and Routeburn Great Walks. And Tuhoe on our Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk conservation project," says Lou Sanson.
"We know that investing in our natural heritage pays dividends, not only for our environment, but for our economy and our social well being," says Lou Sanson.