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Date:  29 January 2011
Source:  Offices of the Minister of Conservation and the Minister for Environment

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson today called for public input into a proposed National Policy Statement on New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity announced at the Bluegreens Forum in Akaroa.

“Protecting biodiversity is one of the most difficult environmental issues New Zealand faces because we have so many unique species that evolved quite separately from the rest of the world,” Dr Smith said. “This policy is about providing greater guidance to councils on the balance that needs to be found in protecting our unique plant and bird life while respecting the reasonable rights of property owners to use and develop their land.

“This proposed National Policy Statement on biodiversity under the Resource Management Act sets out the Government’s expectations and guidance of how local councils will protect biodiversity on private land. It also delivers on National’s 2008 election promise and commitment to the Maori Party. It recognises rare and threatened species are not just found in national parks, but rare and threatened habitats, such as wetlands and lowland native forests, and occur on private land throughout the country.

“This proposed National Policy Statement is part of a wider agenda of providing stronger national leadership and guidance on environmental issues.”

Ms Wilkinson said New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity was not only vital to our environment, but also to our agricultural, horticultural and tourism industries.

“Many of our native plants and animals are found only in New Zealand. Once a species is gone, it is gone forever. This proposed Biodiversity NPS provides a flexible approach for councils, recognising that specific regions will have their own unique issues to address.”

“The Government is seeking submissions from landowners, councils, Maori, environmental groups and other New Zealanders by 2 May 2011 to ensure the final policy statement has balance and broad support.”

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