Government's new plan to help 500 species

The Government has announced a new goal to boost the population of 150 "at risk" species by 2025, and to ensure long-term protection for 500.

Helping protect 500 species is a big job, but there's no new money for this - the funding will come out of DoC's existing budget.

"If we can keep the predators under control and eradicated them ideally as we have from offshore islands then we will be able to save those species and increase our protection of them," Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says.

Forest and Bird's Kevin Hackwell says it's not enough, he gives it a "four out of 10."

The kakapo is a conservation success story -in 1970 just 18 were known to exist, but there are now 160.

However thousands of other endangered species don't have the same star-power, such as the country's rarest bird, the fairy tern, which is fluttering near extinction.

"Those species don't get as much of a look in, but they are just as important and we don't want to see those species disappear on us as well," conservation biologist Jacqueline Beggs says.

Ms Barry addressed pressure to give DoC more funding on Wednesday.

"We look at the DoC budget very carefully each year and I think you'll find that there will be some announcements that will interest a lot of people in terms of the extra resourcing we'll be able to supply to DoC," she said.

Addressing The Project host Jesse Mulligan's campaign to increase funding, she said he needed to "cheer up".

DoC director general Lou Sanson said corporate partnerships and volunteers will help out with a job DoC can't achieve on its own.

"We've got 250,000 volunteers who believe in the same thing that we do, that we just want species back," he said.

Ms Barry said that DoC needs to partner with other organisations.

"The Crown can't be expected to fund every single project on its own."

But Ms Beggs asks: "Really, what other sector in NZ would you expect it to be largely driven and the work  to be done by volunteers?"

And there are no hints of more money - yet.

Finance Minister Steven Joyce says he thinks "we fund it very well now".

A pre-Budget funding announcement is expected next week relating to the "Battle for our Birds" - which is DoC's national pest control programme.

As for whether DoC gets an overall funding boost - it's all eyes on the Budget.

Newshub. 

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