Environment groups want a big cash boost to protect native wildlife this Thursday, with one organisation calling for a doubling of the Department of Conservation's core biodiversity budget.

Major green groups surveyed by the Herald ahead of this week's Budget 2017 environment and conservation announcements also hope to see action on climate change and funding to restore degraded waterways.

Forest and Bird wanted to see a doubling of the DoC core biodiversity budget over the next four years, from $163 million per year to $330 million per year, chief executive Kevin Hague said.

"The Government has a $1.5 billion surplus," he said.


"Let's spend just a portion of that on turning around the crisis facing New Zealand's environment."

Hague pointed out that public conservation land covered one third of the country's land mass, was home to some of the world's most remarkable plants and animals, was the source of most of our swimmable rivers and lakes, and was the basis of New Zealand's international brand.

"It's absurd that as a country we spend so little protecting those things."

The Environmental Defence Society also called for a significant increase in DoC's core budget, along with uplift for the Predator Free NZ effort and more resources for wilding pines management.

"DoC's Community Partnership Fund needs a top-up because that's how massive volunteer effort for conservation across the country is mobilised," chairman Gary Taylor said.

"We need more funding for river and lake restoration and greater implementation support for regional councils, especially the least-resourced ones.

"It'd also be helpful to create dedicated funds for eroded land stabilisation and a sewerage upgrade fund for small communities."

On climate change, Taylor saw a need to reduce the number of cows and for the Government to offer funding for an "exit ramp" for farmers.


"On the marine side, there is a need to resource implementation of the Hauraki Gulf spatial plan and the development of further strategic marine plans in areas facing resource pressures," he said.

"On the development side of Budget 2017, there needs to be clear recognition that growth must be within environmental limits."

Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman wanted to a see a halt to subsidies for industrial-scale irrigation schemes, and to incentives for fossil fuel-based companies.

"Instead of supporting an expansion of the oil industry with cut-rate royalty schemes, the Government should be investing in the growth of the clean energy sector, which is not only good for the climate, but it's good for the long-term New Zealand economy."

That call was echoed by WWF-New Zealand head of campaigns Peter Hardstaff, who also backed a shift in new transport infrastructure away from major road projects and towards public transport, walking and cycling.

Hardstaff further wanted to see at least $26 million earmarked over the coming year to protect critically endangered Maui dolphins, through removing set netting and conventional trawling, and supporting fishers to transition to dolphin-safe fishing methods.

"$26 million is equivalent to only 0.03 per cent of the Government's annual budget."

Ahead of the Budget, the Government has already announced $76 million on new and upgraded tourism infrastructure for DoC as part of a $178 million tourism infrastructure package.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has also confirmed $21 million will be spent on the ongoing "Battle for our Birds" campaign to beat back a swelling in rat and stoat numbers expected to come with a beech forest mast event this year.