Budget 2017: Conservation comes out a loser?
The environment appears to have come off as a loser in the 2017 Budget, with just $4 million going towards climate change and Forest & Bird says native wildlife is facing a cut.
Included in the Budget is a one-off $21.3 million fund for 'Battle of the Birds', an emergency response to a beech masting event expected this year.
Heavy masting events lead to an increase in pests such as rats and stoats, due to an increase in food for them.
Once that's factored into the $107.8 million in the Budget, Forest & Bird's chief executive Kevin Hague says it's actually a $12 million reduction to biodiversity funding.
"When you take out this one-off $21.3 funding for the Battle for Our Birds, the core budget for managing natural heritage is actually $30.2 million less than the 2008/09 budget and $12 million less than last year's budget," he said.
"Over the last nine years, the core budgeted funding for protecting our native animals, plants and landscapes has declined in real terms by nearly 21 percent. Today's budget has delivered a further reduction in core biodiversity spending."
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said the new funding in the Budget brings the total conservation funding to $466 million in 2017-18.
"This funding continues the Government's commitment to Predator Free 2050 with a range of specific initiatives to protect and restore threatened species, fight kauri dieback, increase predator, pest and weed control and marine protection as well as respond to tourism growth," she said.
In the rest of the Budget, $4 million will be set aside for the upcoming revamp of New Zealand's Scott Base in Antarctica.
There's another $2.1 million in operating funding over the next two years and $3.5 million towards office accommodation in Christchurch.
"A revamped Scott Base will allow us to continue providing safe and effective logistics and also support the high-quality Antarctic science relevant to New Zealand's policy and interests," Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee said.
"By maintaining a credible presence in Antarctica, our ability to safeguard the environment will continue, as will our influence in the Antarctic Treaty System."
The funding has been welcome by Antarctica New Zealand, which said it "provides assurance that New Zealand will remain at the forefront of Antarctic science".
"New Zealand's core facility in Antarctica, Scott Base, is reaching the end of its functional life and needs to be modernised and upgraded in order to maintain appropriate standards, and reduce risks," a spokesperson said.
"The new dedicated funding for Antarctic science underpins the value of any future investment to redevelop Scott Base."