Tourism levy boosts New Zealand conservation funding
Forest & Bird, New Zealand’s leading independent conservation organisation, has welcomed a budget that devotes new funding and research to protecting and restoring New Zealand’s natural environment. The Department of Conservation’s (DOC) Natural Heritage funding has been boosted by some $80 million compared to last year, of which $42 million comes from the International Visitors Conservation and Tourism Levy.
Northern Brown Kiwi, currently listed as Vulnerable, is an iconic New Zealand species (Neil Robert Hutton).
A further $35 million has come from already announced funding for biodiversity, with $10 million over four years going towards keeping DOC employees and assets safe from threats. Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague said: “This is fantastic – income from international tourists is going towards DOC, and the vast majority of the money will benefit our native wildlife and ecosystems, not just more toilets and carparks.
“In general, this year’s budget is acknowledging the importance of nature in New Zealand by devoting more money to natural heritage protection and devoting funding to transition towards a more sustainable economy.”
Forest & Bird also welcomed $229 million for a Sustainable Land Use package to help clean up fresh water and wetlands, some of which will be used to support farmers to reduce pollution. Hague commented: “We have long called for more support for farmers to transition towards sustainable farming methods. We just hope this money is used for initiatives that are actually transformative, not just tinkering around the edges.
“We need to be diversifying our farming, and farming within environmental limits, not just carrying out more planting and fencing. This new money also needs to be backed up by strong regulations to protect our fresh water.”
Furthermore, there is $95 million given for science and research, including on new technologies, and $25 million over four years for helping the agriculture sector to deal with the effects of climate change.