Question Time 5 May 2015 (Conservation)

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

11. EUGENIE SAGE (Green) to the Minister of Conservation : Does she agree with Professor Mark Urban that New Zealand’s indigenous species are at greater risk of extinction from climate change than species in many other parts of the world; and if not, why not?

Hon MAGGIE BARRY (Minister of Conservation): Yes.

Eugenie Sage : Has she ever tried to convince her Cabinet colleagues to protect our native species at risk of extinction from climate change by adopting policies that reduce New Zealand’s emissions; if not, why not?

Hon MAGGIE BARRY : I have spoken to my Cabinet colleagues and caucus and this House on many occasions about the need to preserve and protect more of our endangered species. In terms of the climate change part of your question, that is best directed to the Minister for Climate Change Issues.

Eugenie Sage : Does the Minister accept that if New Zealand contributes to a more than 2-degree warming of the planet by our emissions increasing by 50 percent over the next 10 years, as the Ministry for the Environment predicts, this will increase the extinction risk for our indigenous species?

Hon MAGGIE BARRY : I refute the so-called facts in that member’s question and disagree with them.

Eugenie Sage : Well, how can the Minister, as the Minister of Conservation, stand by while climate change increases the extinction risk for our threatened species to 14 percent, as Mark Urban predicts?

Hon MAGGIE BARRY : This Government and I as the Minister of Conservation are certainly not standing by. An example I would draw the member’s attention to is the Battle for our Birds, which was a direct response to what happened with a masting—that is, a very extensive seeding of the beech trees. Many people understand that the reason that triggers the mast of a beech forest is to do with temperatures. Warmer temperatures mean higher seeding, which means plague proportions of rats—25 million. We planned for that, we analysed it, and we unrolled a strategy called Battle for our Birds, which resulted in the successful turn-round of the decline of at least 12 of our native species. It was a highly successful campaign.