The Green Party says the Government's budgets cuts are throttling Northland's native forests but the Department of Conservation says it can't try to save all the forests all the time.
The National Government has cut $376 million from the Department of Conservation (DoC) budget in real terms over the past seven years, Green Party spokesman Kevin Hague said. Only 2000 of the 116,000ha of forest managed by DoC in Northland are covered by multi-pest control operations, he said.
Mr Hague's comments follow Forest and Bird last week saying Northland forests were dying because of DoC's neglect. Forest and Bird released aerial footage showing the high number of dead trees in some forests' canopies.
DoC said budget constraints mean it has to prioritise operations. "We are currently managing about 41,000 hectares for possums across Northland, slightly more than we did last year," spokeswoman Carolyn Smith said.
Where there is an opportunity to collaborate with iwi, communities and other agencies to get more done, DoC is open to reprioritising to capitalise on those opportunities, Ms Smith said.
Whangaroa and Russell forests, the focus of Forest and Bird's concerns, are not ranked as high up the values scale as Waipoua and Warawara forests, she said.
"That doesn't mean they aren't important. That's why collaboration is key like what happened with Warawara. Te Rarawa hapu took a lead role in this project, being proactive about bringing more resources into the pot through funding applications and involving other partners," Ms Smith said.