WILD PLACES Conference Communiqué
The Environmental Defence Society’s annual summit has just concluded at the Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland. The event is New Zealand’s leading environmental conference and was attended by more than 250 resource managers and leaders and was addressed by representatives of most political parties.
The conference focused on the nexus between tourism and conservation and asked how we can better manage burgeoning numbers of international visitors seeking to experience New Zealand’s natural heritage.
Key ideas, findings or announcements that emerged from the dialogue include:
- The revelation from the Political Leader’s Forum that there is a likely Parliamentary majority to extend proposed marine protected areas legislation to embrace the EEZ (with Māori, Greens, Labour and NZ First all in support)
- An announcement from the Minister for the Environment that he is establishing a collaborative group to develop a National Policy Statement on Biodiversity, the missing link in the range of national level RMA instruments
- Clear recognition from most political parties that the Department of Conservation is underfunded especially given the increasing pressures it is under
- An announcement by the Green Party that it will introduce a border levy called a Taonga Levy on tourists to help fund Predator Free NZ and regional tourism infrastructure, an initiative supported by the Labour Leader
- The suggestion from the Queen Elizabeth National Trust that New Zealand needs a Revolving Land Fund to acquire, protect and on-sell high value land after putting protection in place
- Wide Parliamentary support for the proposed Kermadec Oceans Sanctuary and an expression of commitment from the Minister to put it in place
- A clear need to develop a tourism strategy based more on value and less on volume and recognition from Air New Zealand that dispersing the peak load throughout the year and throughout the country is desirable to ensure a more sustainable sector.
- Broad agreement that under new leadership DOC is making good progress and needs a period of stability to mature and develop
- Recognition of the need for longer term strategic thinking about New Zealand’s future potentially by an independent Futures Commission
- Consensus that “wild places” are hugely important to our sense of identity as New Zealanders and to our well-being
- A commitment from the Labour Leader to restore DOC’s statutory advocacy function
- Broad support for the Predator Free New Zealand initiative
“We have significantly progressed the conversation about the future of New Zealand’s Wild Places at this conference,” said EDS CEO Gary Taylor.
“The past 2 days have been a real celebration of what makes our country unique in the world.
“The conference fully understands the challenges we face to restore our biodiversity and protect our landscapes, but there is a real sense of optimism that if we work together we can get there,” Mr Taylor concluded.
Videos of the conference sessions can be found HERE...