Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust founding trustee Euan Kennedy:
'As far as I'm aware, New Zealand trusts are doing very
well but the funding catchment is very small.' Photo by
An unco-ordinated ad-hoc approach to conservation under a
new community-focused model could be risky for the future of
endangered species, Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust founding trustee
Euan Kennedy says.
Just how the Department of Conservation's new ''partnership''
approach to conservation, launched in September, is going to
work is one of questions he hopes will be answered during the
penguin trust-organised Conservation Inc conference in
Dunedin, which starts today.
Mr Kennedy, who has worked for Doc and its predecessor for 35
years, said New Zealand was moving from a largely government
co-ordinated approach to conservation to one with a ''strong
disposition'' to a lack of co-ordination.
''I think we do need to make sure community-based
conservation is doing the right thing by New Zealand
biodiversity and that it is able to sustain the effort long
enough. You can't stop and start, especially if they are
close to extinction.''
He believed community groups and trusts could be relied upon
to ''do the business''.
''But there will need to be a lot of negotiation between
players and there's going to be a lot more players.''
While conservation trusts could be successful and durable -
the yellow-eyed trust had been around for 25 years - they did
have weaknesses in the way they functioned and operated.
''They don't have the same certainty of funding.
They have to engage in forms of behaviour that are foreign to
conservation - strutting your stuff for self-promotion.''
There was also the risk of overlap and duplication.
The new model also led to the risk of competition between
those non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for funding that
was ''not all that easy to come by'', he said.
This gave trusts which championed ''beautiful species'' an
advantage but could also make trusts more self-centred and a
lot more invested in reputation and profile.
Community organisations were often ''drowning in an agony of
finding funds'' and were therefore limited by what they could
''As far as I'm aware, New Zealand trusts are doing very well
but the funding catchment is very small ... there is only so
As a result, funds previously devoted to protecting species
were diverted, Mr Kennedy said.
''It's a fact of life. You've got to be out there,'' he said.
Competition could be ''really dangerous'' as conservation was
a ''vocation'' for all involved and was, by nature,
''The scale of the task is so great, it will take people
working together to fix it.''
It was hoped the role Doc would take in this and how
community groups could harness the opportunities would be
explained during the conference, which was being attended by
Doc director-general Lou Sanson and other Doc staff, he said.
''Who is going to be the mentors, arbiters, police and safety
net?''Despite all the challenges he believed the next 10
years would be very exciting for conservation and could lead
to greater investment in conservation by the public.
''It's going to be hard work and it will be asking a lot of
people's spare time.''
Nearly 200 people had registered for the conference, at the
Dunedin Centre, which ends tomorrow.