Collaborative report a breakthrough for biodiversity

Published: Thu 25 Oct 2018 01:08 PM
Collaborative report a breakthrough for biodiversity
The Biodiversity Collaborative Group is today pleased to publish a report including a draft National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPS-IB) and further recommendations to help indigenous biodiversity thrive.
The Biodiversity Collaborative Group is a stakeholder-led group funded by the Minister for the Environment to advise on new national-level policy on indigenous biodiversity—native plants, animals and ecosystems in New Zealand.
“Today’s report handover is significant. Under previous governments there have been several unsuccessful attempts to produce a NPS-IB. This stakeholder-led process has been a breakthrough,” says group trustee and Forest & Bird lawyer Sally Gepp.
“Just as importantly, the group has collaborated to identify measures beyond the NPS-IB that should make a real difference for our native species and ecosystems.”
The group’s core members (Federated Farmers, Forest & Bird, Forest Owners Association, Environmental Defence Society, the Iwi Chairs Forum, and representatives from infrastructure) have worked together for 18 months, supported by active observers from central and local government.
“The group is made up of people with a strong interest and passion for ensuring our unique biodiversity thrives and can be enjoyed by future generations,” says group trustee and Federated Farmers board member Chris Allen.
“From the outset, the group acknowledged we need a step change in New Zealand’s approach to biodiversity if this is to occur.”
“With a significant proportion of New Zealand's remaining indigenous biodiversity on private land, we want to enable local communities and landowners to continue their great conservation work on the ground, while also giving them certainty and clarity through more effective RMA plans,” says Mr Allen.
Despite the diversity of interests represented on the collaborative group, there is a large amount of agreement in the report. A key recommendation is that councils are directed to map Significant Natural Areas in their plans (with an associated recommendation that government help resource small councils to achieve this).
If the group’s recommendations are progressed, councils will also be required to work with tangata whenua, landowners, and the wider community to set a regional vision for biodiversity enhancement, and have targets and a strategy to achieve that vision.
Ms Gepp says a robust NPS-IB is essential for halting and reversing the biodiversity crisis in New Zealand.
“New Zealand’s unique biodiversity continues to be lost, largely due to habitat loss and introduced pests. Without clear, directive policy, it can be hard for decision-makers to see the cumulative impact of incremental habitat loss.
“The draft National Policy Statement is intended to help to provide a national perspective ensure native species, ecosystems and habitats are front of mind in decision-making about how people use, develop and protect natural resources.”
“We wish to thank Associate Environment Minister Nanaia Mahuta, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage, and previous Environment Minister Nick Smith for their support over the last 18 months,” says Mr Allen.
The Government will seek public feedback as part of the process for progressing to an operative NPS-IB under the Resource Management Act.
The collaborative group’s full report has four sections: a recommended draft NPS-IB, accompanied by Complementary and Supporting Measures, a summary of evidence, and a covering report giving reasons for the recommendations.
The report can be found here.

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