Stats, PCE Reports Highlight Need To Bring Back Nature

Forest & Bird is calling on the government to urgently get on with protecting and restoring nature, in the face of two dire reports released today showing native species on the brink and a failure of wellbeing budgets to address this ongoing loss.

“On the same day that Stats NZ releases the latest figures on how nature is on the brink of collapse in Aotearoa, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has highlighted the utter failure of the government to properly incorporate the value of looking after nature in its wellbeing budgets,” says Forest & Bird Regional Conservation Manager Rick Zwaan.

The latest Stats NZ indicators released today show that 90 percent of seabird species, 82 percent of shorebird species, and 94 percent of reptile species are either threatened with extinction or at risk of becoming threatened. In addition, the populations of many of New Zealand’s indigenous species are expected to decline further.

Stats NZ also showed precious wetlands continue to be destroyed with 1,500 rugby fields worth of wetlands drained or destroyed in six years between 2012 and 2018.

Forest & Bird recently slammed the government for its plans to weaken rules protecting wetlands.

“Wetlands are crucial to our wellbeing and the government urgently needs to work to reverse the loss of wetlands, rather than weakening the rules which protect them,” says Mr Zwaan. “Every wetland counts – drainage, devegetation, and destruction results in more carbon in the atmosphere, dirtier rivers, and fewer places for native fish and birds to thrive.

“We also need government to properly fund control of the pests destroying New Zealand’s forests, and protect our seas from being plundered by destructive trawling and set netting.

“To reverse this loss the government must ensure laws properly protect nature, fund a nature first climate plan, and urgently implement its biodiversity strategy Te Mana o te Taiao. Otherwise we’ll continue to see native birds, fish, and lizards pushed past the brink of extinction.”

The PCE’s report demonstrates the way the government decides to allocate public funds severely fails to account for the huge benefits nature brings to overall wellbeing and fails to take a long-term approach to challenges.

“We know when nature is healthy, not only are native birds, bush, and fish doing well, but humans are healthier too,” says Mr Zwaan.

“We’ve recently seen with Jobs for Nature how looking after the environment can boost the economic and community recovery. Now the government needs to invest more in nature for the sake of environmental wellbeing, as well as for the benefits it brings to the country overall.”

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