Federated Farmers on Dr Jan Wright’s ‘native birds’ report

Press Release – Federated Farmers

The report “Taonga of an Island Nation: Saving our Native Birds” released by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment today reminds us that farmers should be rightly proud of their environmental work says Federated Farmers.Federated Farmers’ statement on Dr Jan Wright’s ‘native birds’ report

The report “Taonga of an Island Nation: Saving our Native Birds” released by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment today reminds us that farmers should be rightly proud of their environmental work says Federated Farmers.

It is true that significant tracts of land have been cleared for agriculture but in the last two decades’ dairy farmers have spent over one million dollars riparian planting, fencing rivers and managing effluent.

Their sheep and beef cousins meanwhile have contributed the bulk of QEII covenanted land which including opportunity cost amounts to over 1.2 billion dollars while in the high country individual farmers spend tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars each dealing with wilding pines, Hieracium and rabbits.

These landscapes in which some of our rare birds live would not exist without farmers.

But the PCE report also points out that modified farmland can also be a home for rare birds as she illustrates on a dairy farm in Canterbury. Black Stilts are also known to enjoy the benefits of irrigation in the high country around Oamarama.

Farmers through their efforts to combat bovine tuberculosis have been significant contributors in the fight to reduce predator numbers spending tens of millions of dollars per year but as Dr Wright notes new technologies are going to be required.

The potential for genetic technologies such as gene drive was noted by cabinet when they agreed to the ambitious target of eliminating predators by 2050 and Dr Wright agrees.

What’s more she says gene editing may be necessary if we are to restore genetic diversity to birds on the brink.

Farmers have argued for the choice to use genetic technologies and councils who see themselves as the gene police should stick to their knitting such as providing good infrastructure and utilities to the their ratepayers.

Saving our native birds is the responsibility of all of us and farmers need more funding help to win the battle of weed and pest control in covenanted areas.

“Ultimately, as Dr Wright’s report emphasises, it is partnerships which will make a difference – Partnerships with farmers, landowners, the private and the public sector.

“The challenges we face are enormous and the future of our native birds’ rests on intelligent planning, prioritisation and the guts to do the right thing.” Federated Farmers’ National President Dr Rolleston said.

ENDS

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