DOC's Briefing to the Incoming Minister of Conservation suggests the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy will be weakened, the Green Party said today.
"In its latest Briefing to the Incoming Minister, DOC makes changes to the Biodiversity Strategy as one of its priorities over the next three years," said Conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage.
DOC signals on page ten of the Briefing that the Biodiversity Strategy needs to be 'refreshed' to 'more closely link biodiversity to our economy and prosperity'.
"DOC is simply surrendering to the National Government's repeated goal of greater commercial exploitation of the conservation estate for short-term economic gain.
"DOC is meant to be the primary defender of the native flora and fauna we love, not the agency facilitating more mining and major tourism infrastructure on the conservation estate."
The New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy establishes national goals and actions required to halt the decline of our native flora and fauna and restore the full range of our remaining natural habitats and ecosystems so viable populations of all native species can flourish.
"The Biodiversity Strategy's goals already provide for the sustainable use of indigenous biodiversity. An in depth and independent review of the Strategy in 2005 did not recommend the change of emphasis the department is now suggesting," said Ms Sage.
"The Briefing identifies declining native biodiversity as DOC's greatest challenge. It notes that a significant increase in pest control is required. Yet none of the key actions identified in the Briefing will address this decline.
"DOC manages one third of New Zealand yet has a budget that is one third the size of the Department of Corrections. The Government is clearly setting DOC up to fail, and we'll all be poorer as a result.
"DOC's proposed review of its 'operational efficiency' this year risks further restructuring and additional job losses on top of the 96 FTE jobs axed last year.
"National's savage budget cuts to conservation funding are crippling DOC's ability to protect our wild landscapes and iconic species such as kiwi and long finned eel.
"The Green Party will use new revenues from a charge on the commercial use of water to boost DOC's funding to one percent of the Government's budget to ensure the protection of the wild places we love."
Link to 2012 DOC Briefing to the Incoming Minister (see p 10):
Link to New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy: