Millions will be spent to keep Department of Conservation (DoC) staff safe at a time threats over its use of 1080 poison are on the rise.

Today's Budget included an extra $10.7m over four years to help improve DoC's "security, and health and safety systems".

The initiative - which would create six new positions - aimed to ensure conservation workers and volunteers were safe and secure while undertaking operations.

Threats against DoC staff have climbed dramatically over recent months – most of it centred around use of 1080 poison to rid conservation land of the rats, stoats and possums decimating our native bird species.


DoC had logged hundreds of incidents, ranging from social media death threats to a worker being approached and asked to eat 1080, while also receiving threats against their family.

One ranger told the Herald of going as far as sleeping with a gun under his bed.

Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague welcomed the new funding.

"In the face of increasingly hostile anti-1080 activity, this is absolutely the right thing to do," he said.

"But it's disappointing that precious taxpayer dollars have to be used in this way."

Generally, DOC's operating budget had climbed from $399m last year to $499m for 2019/20 - partly boosted by $42m from the new International Visitors Conservation and Tourism Levy.

Hague was pleased that income from tourists was going toward conservation, with the vast majority of the money will benefit our native wildlife and ecosystems – "not just more toilets and carparks".

Federated Farmers, however, pointed out that there was no extra funding this year for the QEII National Trust or the Ngā Whenua Rāhui Fund, and described support for the control of wilding conifers as woefully inadequate.


"We hoped to see the wilding conifer programme receive more like $25 million per year," the lobby group's arable and biosecurity spokesperson Karen Williams said.

"It's a $250m problem growing at 20 per cent per year. We are not even going to hold our own at $10m."

The Government last year banked $81.2m over four years to scale up DoC's predator control programme to respond to the threat posed by a pest-fuelling "mega mast" in the country's beech forests.

This year's Budget included a range of big spends in operating funding for biosecurity: including $20.8m for kauri dieback research, $5m for wiping out fruit flies in Auckland and $12m for beefing up the biosecurity system.

Dr Andrea Byrom, the director of the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, said it wasn't surprising there was a big focus on the area.

"Although this allocation is operational rather than science, increasingly I think there is a lot the science sector can do to work closely with Government and industry to help strengthen the biosecurity system," she said.

"In terms of science and innovation, the top-up for kauri dieback research will provide a much-needed boost to the 2018 investment to save one of Aotearoa's most iconic trees.

"This should enable scientists to accelerate strategic research into new tools to combat this pathogen."