Conservation Department at tipping point

 

Today’s damning report from the Auditor General on the effectiveness of the Department of Conservation reveals the damage done by National’s lax approach to conservation, Labour says.

The report states that the Department's efforts to manage biodiversity have, at best, resulted in merely slowing its decline.

“The last four years have seen the Department fundamentally gutted, with a weak Minister constantly being overridden by Cabinet Ministers pursuing other agendas,” Labour’s Conservation spokesperson Ruth Dyson says.

“We have seen this in mining, fishing and tourism, where the protection of our conservation estate, endangered species and biodiversity consistently plays second fiddle.

“The lack of advocacy within the Department is a concern but isn’t surprising given the turmoil of an almost permanent state of restructuring, with further cuts to front line services signalled for the New Year.

“The Auditor General has made it clear that more funding is needed for the fundamental and legislative responsibilities the Department is required to perform. Corporate sponsorship has a role to play, but it must be for tasks outside these core roles.

“At the moment we have a Department that is regularly forced to pull out the begging bowl.

“That is not sustainable and the report makes it clear that our conservation estate is rapidly approaching a point of no return,” Ruth Dyson said.