Smith outlines focus of Bluegreens movement

By Ruth Keber

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Conservation Minister Nick Smith said National would create a Biodiversity Forum to develop a long-term pest control strategy. Photo / APN
Conservation Minister Nick Smith said National would create a Biodiversity Forum to develop a long-term pest control strategy. Photo / APN

About 40 members of the public turned out to a meeting to hear National's environment and conservation policies.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith last night spoke about National's Bluegreens movement as a combination of a strong economy and the ability to look after the environment properly.

"Getting this stuff right, about marrying together good economic and environment policy, is more important for New Zealand than any other OECD country in the world."

He said the environment in the Bay of Plenty was "pretty amazing".

"If you look at our economy, Bay of Plenty economy is pretty similar to my own. It's forestry, horticulture, diary and tourism and all of those depend so much on responsibly managing the natural resources that we have," he said.

Mr Smith said the biggest environmental challenges for the government currently were freshwater, species protection, climate change, and ocean's management and clean air.

Mr Smith said New Zealand had been really lazy in its protection of its fresh water over the years.

"We've had so much of it we haven't had to be too sophisticated about using it. We have wasted a whole lot and have been quite careless around water quality."

Mr Smith said out of 193 countries in the world, New Zealand was ranked 193, bottom of the class "for the percentage of our native species which are on the brink of extinction".

"So if you really care about New Zealand's clean green brand you want to be worried about the number of birds species who are struggling.

"Kiwi, we used to have millions and millions of them, we are down to about 70,000 ...

"Last century people hunting them and clearing bush was all a part of the problem but today 25 million birds a year are killed by rats, stoats and possums," he said.

Mr Smith said National would create a Biodiversity Forum to develop a long-term pest control strategy, undertake a full review of New Zealand's threatened species management framework and complete testing for self-resetting traps and fund research for 1080 alternatives. "If you are serious about the survival of our kiwi, kokako or kakapo and any one of those precious birds you have to be serious about pest control," he said.

The Bluegreens approach

*Resource use must be based on sustainability
*Economic growth and improving the environment can and must go hand in hand
*Good science is essential to quality environmental decision making
*People respond best to change when engaged and given incentives
*New Zealanders have a unique birthright to access and enjoy our special places

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