Kiwi threat prompts conservation boost

A warning about the potential extinction of New Zealand's national bird has prompted Government to boost funding to conservation efforts.

Just over $11 million has been allocated in today's Budget into into arresting the decline in wild kiwi numbers. The funding would last for four years, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said.

The Department of Conservation (DoC) warned last year that the kiwi could become extinct within our grandchildren's lifetime.

Wild kiwi numbers were falling by 2 per cent each year. At this rate, the bird could be wiped out on the mainland within the next generation.

The target for the new investment was to turn the 2 per cent decline into an annual increase as soon as possible.

"Kiwis are known around the world as a symbol of New Zealand," Ms Barry said.

"They are a famous and precious taonga and integral to our national identity. If we don't do more now to halt their decline, we risk losing wild kiwi forever."

The main risks to wild kiwi were introduced pests such as stoats and ferrets, and some of the money would be spent on pest trapping and bird monitoring in a partnership between DoC and community organisation Kiwis for Kiwi.

The investment would also pay for breeding programmes, research, and expansion of DoC predator control programmes.

The Government's other main spending in the environment and conservation sector was a further $20.4 million over four years to give better national direction to councils in implementing proposed changes to the Resource Management Act.

Another $4 million would go into supporting the Environment Protection Authority to implements law changes in relation to the Exclusive Economic Zone.

In total, $41.2 million in new funding was allocated to environmental priorities.

- Isaac Davison of the New Zealand Herald

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