Call to fund environmental projects

The pandemic recovery and nature recovery will go hand in hand, a conservation group says.

Forest&Bird is calling on the Government to invest money "wisely" as it rebuilds the economy, post-lockdown.

It said it would be a "crucial" time to implement environmental projects, which would not only address the climate crisis but also create job opportunities.

The conservation group released a report called Recovery for People and Planet which outlined its project suggestions, including investing in infrastructure and funding pest and weed control.

It also asked for further funding of local councils for clean domestic water, to help reduce pollution from sewage and storm water.

The report said the projects would create more jobs for infrastructure contractors and tradespeople, as well as boost jobs in project management and administration.

A low number of tourists due to Covid-19 would allow time to "catch up", and boosting the Conservation Tourism Levy Fund could help to complete conservation work in areas which had been under tourism pressure.

Regional manager Sue Maturin said restoring estuaries and the margins of rivers would protect whitebait spawning areas and should also be a priority.

She said Forest&Bird had been "disappointed" that the establishment of marine reserves in the Otago region had been "put back".

"A real positive would be funding to facilitate a transition from more damaging fisheries, such as set netting, to more friendly methods like potting and long-lining by, for example, covering the capital costs of conversions."

She said work started on the report prior to lockdown.

"It is crucial that we do not just return to old ways that are not working very well.

"We know fishing, farming, forestry and tourism need to change to become more sustainable, we have climate crisis and we have 4000 species in trouble."

She believed many of these problems would grow and become harder to fix as time passed.

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