Cuts will have impact

The Southland Conservation Board’s rohe includes the Sub-Antarctic Islands. PHOTO: ALLIED PRESS...
The Southland Conservation Board’s rohe includes the Sub-Antarctic Islands. PHOTO: ALLIED PRESS FILES
Investing in conservation and environmental protection isn’t just an option; it is imperative for the survival of our planet.

The Southland Conservation Board is gravely concerned about recent cuts to both the Department of Conservation and proposed spending and staff cuts at the Ministry for the Environment.

While we understand the directive to Public Service agencies to find savings in their budgets, we strongly believe this will have detrimental and far-reaching impacts – at a time when our environment and conservation should absolutely be front and centre.

The Southland Conservation Board’s rohe includes Fiordland National Park, Rakiura National Park, and the Sub-Antarctic Islands, as well as conservation parks, marine reserves, and marine mammal sanctuaries, wilderness areas, a Ramsar site, and scenic, recreational and historical reserves. It is impossible to overstate the ecological and biodiversity importance of this public conservation land. It is also impossible to overstate the importance of this to our social, cultural and recreation identity, as well as to our international image as both a nation and destination.

The work of the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for the Environment underpins so very much of Aotearoa’s cultural, environmental, social and economic wellbeing and we are very concerned about what these cuts might mean for this.

When nearly 4000 native species are either at risk or threatened with extinction, now is the time for more investment – not less.

Our environment and conservation estate make Aotearoa such a special and unique part of the world, but it appears the calls of the kiwi and the kea have been overwhelmed by the calls for cuts to government spending.

These cuts could impact programmes across climate change, freshwater protection, waste minimisation, biodiversity and environmental protection – these things are essential for our future.

And we fear what this might mean.

We are already blessed to have many community and volunteer groups who do so much positive mahi for our special places – but should we need to increase this reliance on volunteers when we know the immense value of conservation and the environment and what it means for our country as a whole?

Each of us should have an innate and special sense of connection to our lands and our waters here in Aotearoa. Investment in these is an investment in the future for our children, grandchildren, and all who are to come.

More money, not less is required for good conservation and environmental protection. Now, more than ever.

 - By South Conservation Board chairwoman Shona Sangster