Federated Farmers backs key themes of biodiversity strategy
A proposed new national biodiversity strategy that speaks about enabling and supporting communities "to connect with
nature in their own way" strikes the right note, Federated Farmers says.
"We’re on board with the direction of the five key ‘system shifts’ in the Te Koiora o Te Koiora (Our Vision for Nature)
discussion document - co-ordination, empowerment of iwi and communities, delivering joined-up work across the landscape
and the need for innovation and technology to transform biodiversity management," Feds environment spokesperson Chris
"The strategy recognises all Kiwis and sectors of society need to work together to protect our native species and
habitat, which is just what we’ve been saying about other challenges in front of us, such as water quality and climate
Many farmers are active on their own properties protecting bush, birdlife, wetlands and other biodiversity; they have a
special connection to the land, and not just to make a living. Farmers are also integral to many of the hundreds of
community and catchment groups putting environmental protection into action.
"So the strategy’s talk of enabling and supporting communities to take action, and joining up smaller scale efforts into
integrated landscape approaches, is spot on," Allen said.
Te Koiora o Te Koiora mentions the worth - and need for support - of the QEII covenants many landowners have voluntarily
vested bush and wetlands under, often at their own considerable cost. The strategy says incentives and market mechanisms
could be better utilised to drive conservation decision-making and notes that New Zealand provides comparatively few
incentives for landowners to conserve biodiversity.
The need for investment to fill the gaps in scientific knowledge, more comprehensive data collection as well as
innovating for the future have long been supported by farmers. The report says we’re still trying to manage biodiversity
with tools developed 50 years ago.
"We can’t do everything at once, so Federated Farmers backs the call for prioritising, and measurable goals to be
checked and reviewed at milestone years - 2025, 2030 and all the way out to 2070.
"Ecological timeframes extend beyond a human lifetime. It’s not like changing the speed limit on a road. In most
instances, longer timeframes will be needed to achieve goals - and this is a frustration we have with a range of
environmental processes. No sooner is the ink dry on strategies and plans, and the public and environmental groups are
crying ‘failure’. Meanwhile, the good work continues on at farm and catchment level, but the benefits from changes can
take more time than realised."
However, Federated Farmers has misgivings about the idea of including biodiversity management into Farm Environment
Plans. "FEPs need to be useful and practical for farmers, not a box ticking bureaucratic exercise, or a way to impose
additional expectations on landowners," Allen said.
"Encouragement through provision of advice, tools, incentives and community conservation hubs, which are also mentioned
in the strategy, is much more likely to succeed."