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Budget gives DOC an extra $100m

The environment comes out a winner in this year's Budget. Photo: Matthew Cattin

The Budget 2019 has received backing from some of New Zealand’s largest outdoors groups.

Forest and Bird chief executive Kevin Hague has welcomed this year’s increase of funding for the environment.

“In general, this year’s budget is acknowledging the importance of nature in New Zealand by devoting more money to natural heritage protection and devoting funding to transition towards a more sustainable economy,” Hague said.

The significant operating budget has increased from $399 million in 2018/19 to $499 million.

DOC’s Natural Heritage funding has increased a further $80 million compared to last year, of which $42 million comes from the International Visitors Conservation and Tourism Levy.  

“This is fantastic – income from international tourists is going towards DOC, and the vast majority of the money will benefit our native wildlife and ecosystems, not just more toilets and carparks,” Hague said.

An additional $10 million over four years has been allocated to keeping DOC employees and assets safe from threats.

“In the face of increasingly hostile anti-1080 activity, this is absolutely the right thing to do. But it’s disappointing that precious taxpayer dollars have to be used in this way,” Hague said.

Fish and Game New Zealand chief executive Martin Taylor has welcomed the $229 million Sustainable Land Use Package.

“We welcome this move to assist farmers to become more environmentally sustainable so we can safely swim and fish in our lakes, rivers and streams,” Taylor said.

A new National Policy Statement for Freshwater is also set to be released this year, which will provide further opportunities to increase New Zealand’s water quality.

“A recent nationwide poll conducted for Fish & Game by Colmar Brunton shows that over 80 per cent of Kiwis are concerned about water quality,” Taylor said. 

“This presents an opportunity for the Government to tackle an issue Kiwis are deeply concerned about.”

New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge director Dr Andrea Byrom is pleased to see the allocated budget for kauri dieback research has increased to $16.2 million.

“The top-up for kauri dieback research will provide a much-needed boost to the 2018 investment to save one of Aotearoa’s most iconic trees,” she said.

“This should enable scientists to accelerate strategic research into new tools to combat this pathogen.”