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February 2022 Issue
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Government plans conservation law reform

The government is undertaking widespread changes to the country’s conservation laws. The department says the laws are not fit for purpose and are out of date.

Conservation Minister Kiri Allan said New Zealand’s conservation laws come under 24 Acts which were created on an ad-hoc basis over 70 years and it is time for a change.

“Over this time, our scientific understanding of species and ecosystems has grown considerably but this is not reflected in the legislation,” Allan said. “This work is a step towards addressing ambiguity and deficiencies in current legislation, much of which is older than I am and doesn’t reflect the massive shift in how we think, and care, about the environment we all share.”

 A roadmap for the work has been released, which includes reviewing the Wildlife Act and changing how concessions and conservation management plans are developed.

Allan said the existing laws governing activities like aircraft landings in Fiordland National Park could not easily be reviewed or updated and changes were needed.

“Conservation planning and permitting decisions often don’t – or can’t – reflect what local communities want, or the latest environmental science,” Allan said. “The current system isn’t fully facilitating the activities we want to enjoy, like mountain biking, or the scientific research we need to address the biodiversity crisis.

“Alleviating some of those pressures and frustrations by simplifying the processes for concessions and other permits for researchers, tourism operators and other businesses is a much-needed fix.”

Allan said the Wildlife Act also needs to better address opportunities and challenges for customary rights and recognising mātauranga Māori, rangatiratanga and kaitiakitanga.

The government will also repeal and replace the Trade in Endangered Species Act.