Restoring New Zealand's Environment and Original Birdsong

The RMA is silent on property rights. It treats environmental habitat as public property, even though private owners bear the costs of improving and maintaining them. Last weekend I visited a man many of you will know who has created... Read more
The RMA is silent on property rights. It treats environmental habitat as public property, even though private owners bear the costs of improving and maintaining them. Last weekend I visited a man many of you will know who has created several hectares of wetland on the shore of the Kaipara Harbour. The compliance issues he’s faced from Council have been enormous. As he put it ‘they keep talking about how important wetlands are until you try to give them some.’ Now that he’s done good work, he risks further ‘public interest’ in his property. It’s a common theme. I’ve visited other farmers who’ve done their best to conserve habitat on their farms only to have it declared a Significant Natural Area under the RMA. Ditto planting native trees. Who would plant a Kauri tree after what happened to the couple in West Auckland? The situation is ridiculous. The reward for doing good conservation is to lose your property rights. We must reform the RMA to respect property rights. Extinctions since human settlement include one bat, at least 51 birds, three frogs, three lizards, one freshwater fish, four plant species, and a number of invertebrates. The sad reality is that we are losing the battle. Read less
Auckland, Auckland ( Global)
June 1, 2019
Submitted by: davidseymour

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David Seymour

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One initiative that we should all support is inland islands, or sanctuaries. All over this country people volunteer to trap, plant, and clean up pests, native trees and beaches. One area which I think deserves support from government – and it is not often you find the ACT Party... Read more

One initiative that we should all support is inland islands, or sanctuaries. All over this country people volunteer to trap, plant, and clean up pests, native trees and beaches. One area which I think deserves support from government – and it is not often you find the ACT Party pushing for Government spending – is the efforts being made all around New Zealand in developing sanctuaries to preserve our endangered species, our flora and fauna.  

The SanctuariesNZ website gives a terrific account of projects underway in New Zealand, listing over 80 spread around the country. If you visit Zealandia, the Karori sanctuary, you will see an outline of what the native bush will look like in 50, a 100, and 500 years. Now that is a vision. 

It is clearly cheaper to establish sanctuaries on actual islands, with the sea providing the protection. We are already doing that. In the 1960s the Department of Conservation initiated pest eradication on offshore islands. DOC has sensibly focused on the most cost-effective approach, which is to eradicate pests from offshore islands. 

But a network of inland island sanctuaries around New Zealand is a worthy vision.  Inland islands are more expensive, because of building and maintaining predator proof fences, but they are much easier for the public to access. And if we are doing this on scale, and with a sustained effort, the costs will come down. 

Our vision should stretch out to the end of this century. Imagine what could be developed all over New Zealand if we harnessed the civic engagement that is already there, and supported it with the finance needed to overcome some of the hurdles along the way. 

Note also that these inland reserves will generate a halo effect – the localities beside the ecological reserve enjoy the effect of much more concentrated birdlife. 

How might we fund a sanctuary programme? 

Well, the government owns, through Landcorp, 140 farms. The government does not need to be owning farms. From the 2015 Annual Report we see Assets on the balance sheet of $1.8 billion, comprising of land, livestock and forest. Netting off liabilities, Total equity is $1.4 billion. The dividend yield to the government, as a percentage of equity, is less than 1% over the past three years. 

The Government’s partial privatisation model is widely hailed as a success. We should spread it to Landcorp. The Greens have criticised Landcorp in the past for its river pollution and deforestation activities, so this could be one asset sale they can get behind. 

We could invest the sale proceeds in a lasting legacy

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Conservation and the Environment

- ACT New Zealand