Hundreds of documents briefing new Government ministers on key policies have been released. Herald journalists have been analysing the Briefings to Incoming Ministers (Bims). Here we look at Conservation.

Continued decline of native species and the impact of tourism have been identified as key challenges in the conservation portfolio.

In its briefing to new minister Eugenie Sage, the Department of Conservation said not only did native species continue to decline but there was insufficient knowledge of species biology, populations, distribution and threats.

Part of the challenge was that the contribution of New Zealand's unique nature and heritage to the nation's economic, cultural and social success was not well understood by the public, it said.

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Briefings to incoming ministers: The highlights

Only one section of the department's (largely bland) three documents released today dealt directly with the struggles it was facing - its strategy document.

The most detailed information about the issues it has was in the area of tourism, where it said unprecedented growth was changing funding needs and expectations of the department.

"[It is] putting pressure on facilities, but creating opportunities to increase investment in conservation," it said.

Native species like Kea are in decline, and present one of the main challenges for the Department of Conservation Photo / File.
Native species like Kea are in decline, and present one of the main challenges for the Department of Conservation Photo / File.

In another briefing document, the department said that by 2025, international visitors to New Zealand were forecast to increase from 3.2 million to 5.4 million - and approximately half of whom were coming to visit places in our national parks.

"DoC must manage the effect of increasing tourism, while continuing to protect and restore biodiversity and enable recreation," it said.

"Many of the challenges of increasing tourism present opportunities for conservation, if tackled strategically and collectively. For example, revenue from tourism can be used to contribute to biodiversity protection and restoration"

It said Budget 2017 had provided DoC with $76 million to better manage its busiest visitor sites - which were facing "real capacity and cost pressures".