Pacific Conservation Biology Pacific Conservation Biology Society
A journal dedicated to conservation and wildlife management in the Pacific region.

Enhancing our Heritage: Conservation for 21st Century New Zealanders: Ways forward from the Tahi Group of Concerned Scientists

John Craig, Henrik Moller, Denis Saunders and Morgan Williams

Pacific Conservation Biology 19(4) 256 - 269
Published: 01 December 2013


New Zealanders are constantly reminded of their degraded environment and the threatened status of their unique plants, animals and ecosystems. Instead of presenting these as symptoms of unsustainable living and the socio-economic system that rewards this, there has been a propensity to treat these as independent problems needing individual solutions with insufficient resources allocated to implement the solutions. For example, conservation of native biota and ecosystem protection are viewed as biological problems that are mainly the responsibility of government to be addressed through a government-based reserve system. In contrast, the Tahi Group view a diverse native biota and healthy ecosystems as essential elements of New Zealanders’ heritage that require social engagement and innovative economic reform. Most of all, the New Zealand conservation paradigm needs to be broadened to encourage collaboration of a wider range of stakeholders and land owners and the application of new tools for learning how best to reverse ongoing decline of native biota and degradation of ecosystems. Diversification of conservation strategies has begun in small “bottomup” ways in communities, organizations, businesses and institutions, powered by commitment and energy of many individual citizens. These strategies, where monitored, demonstrate effective and efficient actions that inspires hope for a future that fully integrates conservation as a normal and an essential component of a prosperous economy and healthy South Pacific society with little or no government input. We make a plea to move from the constant reiteration of conservation problems to a focus on developing and implementing solutions to these problems with the engagement of all New Zealanders.

© CSIRO 2013

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