7 December 2011

To:

The Honourable Kate Wilkinson, MP

The Director General, Department of Conservation, Mr Al Morrison

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We wish to register our collective dismay at the current restructuring of the Department of Conservation. The effect of these changes is of particular concern with regards to science and technical support staff. The dedicated staff in these positions are intimately involved in planning and advising field based conservation management and research. Therefore, to suggest that rangers and field based staff will not be affected by these changes, as the Minister and Director General claim, is ludicrous.

The Department of Conservation is characterised by an incredibly dedicated staff who are passionate about their jobs. Unfortunately, this dedication to conservation is not reflected by government. There is an ongoing reduction in capacity, support and funding for New Zealand conservation, along with the continual threat of restructuring and reprioritisation of resources. The loss of positions coupled with those who chose to leave an under-resourced and uncertain future within the department is to the detriment of New Zealand Conservation and ultimately to New Zealanders.

New Zealand has an outstanding international reputation for innovative and effective conservation management. This reputation has been hard won through snatching iconic species from the brink of extinction the Chatham Island black robin, kakapo, takahe and saddleback. Many more species and ecosystems teeter on the edge of oblivion. We have the expertise to prevent this from happening but the experts require funding, support and job security.

This week over 1300 conservation biologists from more than 75 countries will converge on Auckland for the International Congress on Conservation Biology. As academics and scientists with intimate links to New Zealand-based conservation management, science and research what will we say when our international colleagues ask about conservation in New Zealand? We have many good things to tell them because conservationists are, by necessity, a dedicated and determined group of people. But we cannot say that this commitment is reflected by our government and we will doubtless relay our fears for the future of New Zealand conservation.

100 per cent Pure New Zealand has to be more than a marketing slogan to attract tourists and buoy exports of our agriculture products. It requires a well-funded Department of Conservation and secure roles within the department for the dedicated staff to simply get on with their job of protecting New Zealand's biodiversity. We acknowledge the current economic challenges facing the globe but we also ask that conservation management and science be properly acknowledged as a strategic asset for the wealth of all New Zealanders and funded as such. Recessions come and go: extinction is forever.

Kind Regards

1.Kevin A. Parker, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University

2.Alan Mark, FRSNZ, KNZM, Emeritus Professor, Department of Botany, University of Otago

3.Doug P. Armstrong, Professor of Conservation Biology, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University

4.Manu Barry, PhD, Research Officer, Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University

5.Dr Brendon Dunphy, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland

6.Joshua M. Gilbert, PhD candidate, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland

7.Sarah Withers, PhD candidate, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland

8.Weihong Ji, PhD, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University

9.Andrew Veale, MSc, Tutor, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland

10.Ian Jamieson, Associate Professor, Department of Zoology, University of Otago

11.Anne Gaskett, PhD, Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland

12.Associate Professor Brian Murray, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland

13.Chris Wedding, MSc, Ecologist, Bioresearches Group Ltd

14.Dylan van Winkel, MSc, Wildlife Ecologist/Herpetologist, Bioresearches Group Ltd

15.Mary Morgan-Richards, Associate Professor, Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University

16.Sarah E. Jamieson, PhD, Conservation Research Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University

17.Elizabeth Parlato, PhD candidate, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University

18.Alana Smith, MSc candidate, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University

19.Carol Bannock, MSc, Ecologist, Muriwai Environmental Action Community Trust

20.Priscilla Wehi, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University

21.Robert Poulin, FRSNZ, Professor, Department of Zoology, University of Otago

22.Matt Rayner, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland

23.Dr Margaret Stanley, Centre for Biodiversity & Biosecurity, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland

24.Dr Janice M. Lord, Curator, Otago Herbarium, University of Otago

25.Natalia Pardo, PhD Candidate, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University

26.Ina Draganova, MPhil, PhD candidate, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University

27.Sandra Anderson, Field Ecologist, School of Biological Sciences/School of Environment, University of Auckland

28.Dr Jamie Mackay, Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland

29.Jessica Costall, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University

30.Trent Bell, BSc, Director/Principal Herpetologist, EcoGecko Consultants Limited

31.Josie Galbraith, PhD Candidate, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland

32.Phil F. Battley, PhD, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University

33.Cheryl Krull, PhD Candidate, Centre for Biodiversity and Biosecurity, University of Auckland

34.Michael Anderson, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University

35.Claas Damken, PhD candidate, School of Environment, The University of Auckland

Te Whare Wananga o Tamaki Makaurau

36.Ralph Allen, PhD, Environmental Consultant (Retired), Dunedin

37.Dr Mike Joy, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University

38.Jacqui Todd, Scientist, Plant and Food Research

39.Charlotte Minson, PhD Candidate, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University

40.Sarah Peters, MSc candidate, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland

41.Helen Nathan, PhD candidate, Joint Graduate School in Biodiversity and Biosecurity, University of Auckland

42.Emeritus Professor John Flenley, School of People, Environment and Planning, Massey University

43.Emma Curtin, MSc candidate, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University

44.Joanne E Peace, PhD, Reserves Co-ordinator, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Auckland

45.Gaylynne Carter, PhD candidate, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University

46.Manpreet Kaur, PhD Candidate, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland

47.Graham Wallis, Professor, Department of Zoology, University of Otago

48.Tim Martin, PhD, Wildland Consultants Ltd

49.David Glenny, PhD, Scientist, Landcare Research, Lincoln

50.Graeme Hill, Broadcaster, Radio Live

51.Allan J. Fife, Ph.D., Research botanist, Allan Herbarium, Landcare Research, Lincoln

52.Dr Jessica E Beever, Contract Research, Landcare Research

53.Dr Bruce Burns, Senior Lecturer in Ecology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland

54.Kate Richardson, PhD candidate, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University

55.Benjamin Barr. MSc (Conservation Biology). Friends of Matakohe Limestone Island

56.Patrick Enright, Botanist and Systems Manager

57.Professor David Lowe, PhD, FRSNZ, FNZSSS, Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Waikato

58.Ellen Schoener, PhD candidate, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University

59. Karen Creagh

60.Thomas Goodman, MSc candidate, University of Auckland

61.Gillian Dennis, (B.Pharm, P.G. Dip PRT), Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University

62.Jane Gosden, MSc Candidate, University of Canterbury

63.Laura Young, PhD Candidate, University of Canterbury

64.Bob Lissington, Business Manager, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University

65.Elizabeth Brown, National Herbarium of New South Wales, Australia

66.Emma Williams, MSc candidate, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University

67.Chris Smuts-Kennedy, Biodiversity Manager, Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust

68.Professor Peter Lockhart, FRSNZ, Massey University

69.Dr Joshua Salter, PhD (Botany), Auckland

70.Shelly Heiss-Dunlop, Auckland, New Zealand

71.Mr W.R.Sykes, Research Associate, Landcare Research, Lincoln

72.Dr Lorne Roberts, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Social and Health Sciences, Department of Natural Science, Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland

73.Dan Blanchon, PhD, Senior Lecturer, Department of Natural Sciences, Unitec Institute of Technology

74.Dr John Ewen, RUCK Research Fellow, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, U.K.

75.Mel Galbraith, Senior Lecturer, Department of Natural Sciences, Unitec Institute of Technology

76.Becky Bell, BSc, MSc (Hons), Terrestrial Ecologist, Golder Associates (NZ) Limited

77.Phil Bishop, BSc, MSc, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Zoology, University of Otago

78.Alice H. Tait, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University

79.Sarah Dwyer, PhD Candidate, Coastal-Marine Research Group, Massey University

80.Associate Professor Dianne Brunton, Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University

81.Ash King BSc. Masters candidate, Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University

82.Andy Warneford, MSc, Contract Ecologist

83.Sam Hill, recent Postgraduate Student in Conservation Biology, Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University

84.Mark Delaney, Ecology Research Technician, , Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University

85.Michelle M. Roper, MSc candidate, Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University

86.Friederike Jordan, MSc candidate, Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University, Auckland

87.Rachael Cousins, MSc, Conservation Biology, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University

88.Monique Jansen van Rensburg, MSc Hons, Independent ecologist, Auckland

89.Melanie Massaro, PhD, School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury

90.Idan Shapira, PhD Candidate, Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University

91.Todd Landers, PhD Candidate, University of Auckland

92.Dr Diane Fraser, Senior Lecturer, Department Natural Sciences, Unitec, Auckland

93.Jenny Laycock, PhD candidate, Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University

94.Bill Lee, PhD, Landcare Research

95.James Dale, Senior Lecturer, Massey University (PhD 2001 Cornell University)

96.A.W. Diamond, Ph.D., Research Professor, Wildlife Ecology, University of New Brunswick, Canada

97.Paul Ditch Keeling, Pest Animal Specialist Contractor/ex 17 years with DOC

98.Jessica Smith, MSc Candidate, Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University

99.Neil Henderson, Project Manager, Weedfree Trust, Auckland

100.Dan Godoy, PhD Candidate, Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University

101.Dr Barbara Breen, PhD, School of Applied Sciences, AUT University, Auckland

102.Dr Agnes Le Port, University of Auckland

103.Carlos Olavarria, PhD, Post Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Lincoln University

104.Kaye van der Straten, Marine and Wildlife Biologist, Wildsalt Consultants

105.Dan Salmon, Octopus Pictures LtD

106.Kelsey Nichols, MSc Candidate, Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University

107.Associate Professor Dave Kelly, School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury

-APNZ