Department of Conservation gets $76 million to protect native plants and animals

The government is pouring more money into what it calls a "biodiversity crisis" with 4000 native plants and animals threatened or at risk of extinction.

Myrtle Rust found in New Zealand. Source: Te Karere

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said $76 million of government funding had been confirmed for the Department of Conservation over the next four years to help tackle the problem.

"On land, the main threats to native species and their habitats are predators such as possums, rats and stoats, habitat destruction such as wetland drainage, water pollution and changed river and stream flow regimes, diseases such as myrtle rust and the impacts of climate change," she said.

"In the oceans, fisheries bycatch and over-fishing affect seabirds and marine mammals.

"Where there has been focused management and investment in recovery programmes the threat status of 22 bird species, including rowi, takahē and mōhua, has improved."

The funding will target protection of priority ecosystems, increased management of marine reserves and freshwater catchments, and an additional six islands being protected from pest incursions.

"The funding will enable more marine reserve compliance and law enforcement work for seven marine reserves this year and enable two research projects to help better protect our marine areas.

"In addition to the new money, work is progressing on developing a new national strategy for biodiversity to help our rich and unique indigenous wildlife and natural landscapes thrive."

In the 750 years since humans arrived in New Zealand, more than 50 native bird species have gone extinct, as well as three frogs, at least three lizards, one freshwater fish, four plants and an unknown number of invertebrates.

As well as the environmental impacts, Ms Sage said the additional funding would result in some 150 new jobs.

The funding was allocated as part of last year's Budget but depended on a detailed business case being completed and approved by the ministers of conservation and finance.