DOC funding 'worst-case scenario' for birds

  • 27/05/2016
Department of Conservation (File)
Department of Conservation (File)

Green groups are seeing red over the latest budgetary allocations for the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Forest & Bird says yesterday's Budget delivered close to the worst-case scenario for the country's native animals.

DOC's allocated budget drops from $471 million in 2015-16 to $430 million in 2016-17. The Government says commercial partnerships are bridging the gap.

New budget money has been allocated for freshwater improvements, a massive pest poisoning programme and wilding pine control but some question whether it is actually new.

"Because the overall conservation and infrastructure baseline budget across departments has been slashed by $64 million, representing a 17 percent overall reduction," said Forest & Bird's Kevin Hackwell.

"The Government's big conservation announcement earlier this year, $20 million for the Battle for Our Birds pest control programme, appears not to be additional funding as promised, but instead to have been siphoned away from other vital conservation work."

The Green Party says National's funding of DOC has been disgraceful.

"Over the last eight years of National budgets, DOC has missed out on $368 million of funding that could have been used to protect our native species, make sure our huts and tracks are up to scratch, and ensure that bridges and viewing platforms are safe," said conservation spokesman Kevin Hague.

Meanwhile, the Government's $100 million over 10 years for freshwater improvement projects has come under fire from zoologist Marc Schallenberg, the president of the New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society.

"Taxpayer money going toward local pollution hotspots doesn't address the overall problem," he said.

The fund will prioritise projects which have already attracted funds from elsewhere and Dr Schallenberg said less important projects could get money solely on that basis.

"As a taxpayer, I would prefer to see polluting industries contributing substantial co-funding to cleaning up the polluted waters that they created."