Trampers support new Minister of Conservation and Lands



The Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand (FMC), on behalf of its 20,000 members and the New Zealand outdoor community, congratulated the new Minister of Conservation and Lands, Eugenie Sage.

"Ms Sage takes office at a critical time, with the Department of Conservation having been shifted away from its core function to protect public conservation land and the species on it, by the tourism boom and the priorities of the last government, often against its will It is deeply refreshing to see the new Minister's desire to return the Department of Conservation to its core functions of conservation and non-commercial, lower key recreation", FMC's president Peter Wilson stated.

Mr Wilson also stated that he welcomed the promised new funding for DOC, with FMC having consistently pushed for new core funding for the Department of Conservation for many years.

"Trampers don't want to see silent forests, and mountains without the call of the kea, but without an increase in landscape scale predator control New Zealand does face extinctions, and the funding boost to protect biodiversity is as overdue as it is welcome"

Another key area of interest for FMC is the South Island high country, and Mr Wilson stated that with the combined roles of Conservation and Land there was the perfect opportunity to develop long term policies to protect these special landscapes, ensure public access to them, and the livelihoods of the farmers that choose to farm them sustainably.

"We have an Overseas Investment Act that currently works for private interests and disregards public and New Zealand interests", Mr Wilson said, citing the recent case of the Hunter Valley Station pastoral lease near Wanaka, which was sold to an American television personality without adequate public access through it.

"The Act needs to be rewritten and the mistakes made by the Overseas Investment Office over the past few years urgently need to be corrected"

Tenure review worries FMC, Mr Wilson stated, but he thinks that the "process can be fixed and urges caution and dialogue before making major changes".

FMC believes that given the neglect of the Department of Conservation and some of its still-broken statutory planning and consultation systems that the new Minister has a challenge on her hands.

"We welcome that we've got a Minister who is up for those challenges, who comes into the portfolio with a huge knowledge-base and passion, and FMC stands ready to support and advise her."