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PULPIT: Policy penalises good farmers

The reason an impressive 2.8 million hectares of native vegetation remains on sheep and beef farms is because landowners have chosen to protect it though maintaining that indigenous vegetation is a considerable cost to landowners and for any biodiversity policies to be effective the buy-in of landowners is critical.

Biodiversity protection on private land relies on the goodwill of landowners.

Indigenous biodiversity must be seen as an asset not a liability.

Landowners must feel confident their positive environmental efforts will not result in more restrictions and bureaucratic interference. For biodiversity protection on private land to be successful it must be removed from the punitive, regulatory framework of the proposed statement and RMA.

Our solution is to point to the success of the QEII Trust covenanting system and the former catchment board approach.

Those systems are a partnership based on trust. They offer tailored plans and rules agreed to by both parties. They focus on actions needed to protect areas rather than bureaucratic surveys. They include funding and help with management of natural areas, confidentiality of private property information and greater certainty for both parties. The proposed statement provides none of that.

Over the next year the Rural Advocacy Network will be calling for major changes to New Zealand’s fragmented and ineffective environmental laws.

As part of that we are advocating for a national advisory system that has a vision of developing and nurturing the environmental ethos of stewardship or kaitiakitanga across all landowners, rural and urban, under one holistic, integrated planning framework. Watch this space.

In the meantime we are launching a nationwide campaign to inform landowners of the statement’s implications. We are calling for much stronger support from our industry groups in challenging the draconian, top-down approach this Government continues to take with environmental policies.

Submissions on the statement close on March 14 and we encourage landowners and those with an interest in biodiversity to submit.

There are no public meetings on the statement and we have asked Ministry for the Environment to reconsider that stance.

We have prepared a comprehensive analysis of the implications for landowners and councils and it can be obtained by emailing or phone/text Jamie 027 3218747.

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