INDEPENDENT NEWS

NZ Approach to Conservation Must Change

Published: Mon 3 Sep 2001 09:48 AM
New Zealand is employing a "sticking plaster" approach to conservation which needs changing, ACT Conservation Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff said today.
"A key theme recognised by many speakers at New Zealand's first conference on private conservation, held at Massey University yesterday, was that rather than solving fundamental problems we tend to patch up already flawed systems and apply yesterday's understanding to current management.
"There is a need for more enlightened management from DoC and much more local autonomy. As one prominent scientist observed 'The current conservation policies promoted by the Department of Conservation are based on the belief in miracles.' It will be a miracle if the 5 percent of DoC land covered by pest eradication programmes could save or protect the forest.
"Conservation effort must be increased, shared and focused by co-management approaches linking DoC, scientists, Mäori, rural and urban communities.
"The future of private conservation will embody an ethic of inclusion and allow for local communities, iwi and individuals to take control of their environment.
"I was particularly taken by the programme undertaken by Murihiku Mäori to study scientifically and use sustainably their traditional food the Titi (muttonbird). The Treaty of Waitangi promises sustainable use and this co-management approach is making that possible.
"The top down, 'we know best', approach adopted by DoC is a major impediment to long term conservation. We desperately need to rethink our current approach to environmental management.
"In DoC's defence and as pointed out by several speakers we have given them an impossible task. It is time we came to their aid," Gerry Eckhoff concluded.
The academic conference or colloquium was organised by the Australia and NZ Sustainable Use Specialist Group (ANZSUSG) a group within the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
Ends

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