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WWF-New Zealand: News

  • New Government has 'Historic Opportunity' to Restore New Zealand Nature

    Dr Megan Woods - NZ Labour spokesperson for Climate Change, Energy, Innovation & Science, and Research & Development. <br />© David Tong/ WWF-New ZealandThe new government has a historic opportunity to unlock a future where New Zealanders thrive in harmony with nature, says environmental organisation WWF-New Zealand.
     
    "The 2017 election was the environment election," said WWF-New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Livia Esterhazy today. "Environmental issues like addressing climate change, protecting our oceans and waterways, and protecting New Zealand's beautiful, unique plants and animals were part of the debate like never before.
     
    "This gives the new government an historic opportunity to protect New Zealand's natural environment."
     
    At the WWF-New Zealand Climate Debate, just days before the election, all three parties in the new government ranked climate action as 10-out-of-10 for importance and committed to passing a new climate law like the Zero Carbon Act.
     
    "As the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand report released yesterday confirms, New Zealand is now emitting 24% more of the greenhouse gases, that are causing climate change, than we did in 1990. What's more, our emissions are still rising.
     
    "Parliament has the chance to put New Zealand back on course. A safe climate future for all New Zealanders is 100% possible," Ms Esterhazy said. "WWF-New Zealand will continue to call for all political parties to support the Zero Carbon Act."
     
    WWF-New Zealand plans to deliver thousands of messages from its supporters to the new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, calling for her government to protect New Zealand's critically endangered Māui dolphins.
     
    "The Department of Conservation estimates that only 63 Māui dolphins remain," Ms Esterhazy said. "Scientists tell us that just one more dying in a fishing net could risk Māui dolphins' very survival.
     
    "The new government has the opportunity to support fishing communities on the West Coast of the North Island to switch to fishing methods that are safe for these precious dolphins."
     
    WWF-New Zealand would love to work with all parties in Parliament to create a science-based representative network of marine protect areas – starting with the Kermadec Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary.
     
    "Less than 1% of New Zealand's ocean territory is fully protected from fishing, oil exploration, and seabed mining," Ms Esterhazy said. "Under the Convention of Biological Diversity, we promised to protect 10%. Scientists told the UN earlier this year that the world should fully protect 30% of our oceans.
     
    "By passing a law to create the Kermadec Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary, the new government could protect 15% of our ocean territory in one hit – a major contribution to global ocean conservation, with a evidence-based minimal impact on the fishing industry."
     
    WWF-New Zealand will also continue to support the Fresh Water Action Plan.
     
    "All of us from farmers to city dwellers deserve a chance to live the unique Kiwi lifestyle with healthy thriving rivers," Ms Esterhazy said. "Rivers are the lifeblood of our country – for our amazing native wildlife, for big parts of our economy, and for our unique Kiwi lifestyle. New Zealanders have made it clear that they want the new government to protect our rivers.
     
    "When it comes to our natural world, business as usual just won't work. As the environment election proved, New Zealand people, businesses and communities share a love for our New Zealand nature. Now, it's time for the new government to seize this historic opportunity."

  • Worrying Report Sparks Need for Parliament to Pass New Climate Law

    Generation Zero volunteers promoting the Zero Carbon Act<br />© Generation Zero

    Environmental organisation WWF-New Zealand calls Parliament to pass a new climate law, in response to today's 'Our Atmosphere and Climate 2017' report that highlights how climate change is harming our country, environment, and people.
     
    The report, released today by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand, confirms that New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 24% since 1990 and are still increasing. 
     
    It identifies a range of climate change impacts: global temperatures have increased by over 1°C; sea levels at New Zealand ports have risen by as much as 22cm; and our glaciers have shrunk by an estimated 25%.
     
    In response, WWF-New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Livia Esterhazy said: "Business as usual just isn't an option if we want a safe climate future where New Zealand's people and communities can thrive in harmony with our country's unique species and ecosystems. It's 100% possible for New Zealand to be a world leader in renewable energy.
     
    "But we need all political parties, whoever is in government, to support this crucial transition. The newly elected Parliament has an opportunity to pass a new climate law like the Zero Carbon Act – to create an expert, non-partisan Climate Commission, to set a science-based target of net zero emissions by 2050, and to give Aotearoa a plan to get there.
     
    "In light of this worrying report, WWF-New Zealand urges whichever parties end up in government once coalition agreements are concluded to seek true bipartisan support for this new climate law."
     

  • Two Days Left to Find Conservation Innovation's Big, Bold Ideas

    Conservation Innovation Awards 2017 logo<br />© Weaver CreativeThere are two days left to enter big, bold ideas and new solutions to New Zealand's greatest environmental challenges, such as freshwater quality, climate change, species decline and invasive pests.

    Open until midnight, Sunday 15 October, WWF-New Zealand's 2017 Conservation Innovation Awards will reward innovative environmental game-changers. A prize package of $25,000 will be awarded to each of the three winners. To submit an idea, visit wwf-nz.crowdicity.com.

    As of today, 36 entries have been logged from Kiwis across the country including from Dunedin, Nelson, Auckland, Raglan, Kerikeri, Hamilton, Martinborough, Wellington, Mangonui, Wanganui, Palmerston North, Christchurch and Waikanae. And more entries are welcome.

    "Ingenuity and innovation are characteristics that Kiwis are renowned for, so if you have a bright idea that could make a real difference in the fight to protect our precious ecosystems and native species, get in quick and enter this year's Conservation Innovation Awards," said Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand's Chief Executive Officer.

    "We're really keen to hear about any ideas, new technologies or innovative projects that tackle conservation obstacles, like climate, weeds, environmental education, invasive pests, improving water quality and saving native species," she said. "Innovation can solve some of New Zealand's biggest conservation challenges and capitalise on the biggest opportunities – business as usual is no longer an option."

    The Awards are driven by an innovative crowd sourcing application process – where inventors, conservationists and inquiring minds can come together to propose and refine ideas in real time. All New Zealanders can get involved in the Awards by joining the WWF Conservation Innovation community at wwf-nz.crowdicity.com to comment and vote on their favourite ideas. Prizes will be awarded in three categories: Engaging young people and communities; Predator Free New Zealand 2050; and an Open Category.

    The 2017 Awards are supported by The Tindall Foundation, Department of Conservation, Callaghan Innovation, Predator Free 2050 and New Zealand's Biological Heritage National Science Challenge. An independent judging panel will be looking for new ideas that have practical application and are game-changers for the environment. Now in its fourth year, the winners will be announced at a ceremony in Wellington on 22 November.

    For information about the Awards, past winners and how to enter, visit www.wwf.org.nz/innovation

  • NZ Sea Lion Research Shows More Action Needed to Address Fishing Threat

    New Zealand sea lion<br />© Sarah MichaelNew research published today shows that more action is needed to reduce accidental catch of endangered New Zealand sea lions in fishing nets, said environmental organsiation WWF-New Zealand.

    NZ sea lions/rāpoka are the most severely threatened and rarest sea lion in the world. They are listed as 'nationally critical' by the Department of Conservation, and without further action this species is at risk of extinction.

    The research, undertaken by a team of scientists from the University of Otago, Massey University and the University of Toronto, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), uses government data to analyse the impact of fishing on the NZ sea lion population. The scientists conclude that accidental catch in fishing nets poses a greater threat to NZ sea lions than is currently assumed by the government.

    Livia Esterhazy, Chief Executive officer of WWF-New Zealand said: "Research like this is vital in helping us to understand the threats to endangered species. Robust science lies at the heart of good management and we urge the government to take this new work on board so that we can ensure the survival of the NZ sea lion.

    "Although NZ sea lions are also affected by disease and food shortages, accidental killing in fishing nets is the biggest human threat these precious animals face. The fishing threat can be actively managed, so surely we should do all we can to reduce it."

    Peter Hardstaff, Head of Campaigns at WWF-New Zealand said: "The fishing industry took an important step by installing sea lion exclusion devices, or SLEDs, in squid trawl nets but for years there have been concerns about their effectiveness. This new study provides certainty that fishing remains a significant threat to NZ sea lions."

    In December, the New Zealand government will take decisions on the management of the squid trawl fishery, which poses the most significant by-catch threat to NZ sea lions.

    "This research has come at an important time," Mr Hardstaff said. "The government should take immediate precautionary management action to reduce by-catch of sea lions in the squid fishery, and carry out research to specifically investigate the effectiveness of SLEDs."

    The overwhelming number of New Zealanders – 84% – want the government to do more to protect endangered NZ sea lions from being accidentally caught and killed in fishing nets (Colmar Brunton polling, July 2017).

  • Environmental groups welcome big marine protection announcement by Niue, and call on NZ to up its game

    The ocean around Niue is a known breeding ground for humpback whales – the same whales that pass through New Zealand's Kermadec region each spring.<br />© Diego M. Garces / WWFKermadec Campaign partners WWF-New Zealand, Forest & Bird and The Pew Charitable Trusts welcomed the Niue government's announcement today that it plans to create a large marine protected area covering 40% of its exclusive economic zone, and called on New Zealand to do more to protect the ocean.
     
    The newly announced marine protected area will protect the ocean around Niue and nearby Beveridge Reef, an uninhabited atoll that is home to the world's highest density of grey reef sharks. Once established, the new marine protected area will be the 28th largest in the world. Niue will be one of three nations, along with Palau and Chile, that are fully protecting well over 30% of their ocean territories, which is what scientists recommend to keep oceans healthy and resilient to climate change.
     
    Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, said: "Congratulations Niue! This is a huge step forward for marine conservation in the Pacific. The ocean around Niue is a known breeding ground for humpback whales – the same whales that pass through New Zealand's Kermadec region each spring.
     
    "There's a huge opportunity for New Zealand to keep this momentum going by establishing the Kermadec Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary now. We Kiwis love our oceans, and we want to protect them. A Colmar Brunton poll earlier this year showed that 93% of New Zealanders want the Sanctuary established. The two mana whenua iwi, Ngāti Kuri and Te Aupōuri support the Sanctuary. Let's make it happen!"
     
    University of Auckland scientist Dr Rochelle Constantine has travelled to the Kermadec region several times, studying the humpback whales that gather there each spring on their way from the tropics, where they breed, down to their sub-Antarctic summer feeding grounds. Supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts, her research has confirmed that humpback whales from Niue travel to the Kermadecs, along with others from across the Pacific and beyond. The Kermadec Campaign partners, Forest & Bird, the Pew Charitable Trusts and WWF-New Zealand have been advocating creating an ocean sanctuary in the region to fully protect its internationally important wildlife.
     
    Kevin Hague, Forest & Bird Chief Executive Officer said: "This is an inspiring move by Niue, and makes it even more embarrassing that New Zealand has only fully protected less than 1% of its ocean. It is past time for New Zealand to step up to the plate on marine protection. Niue has promised to protect 40% of its ocean territory. By keeping the promise our government made two years ago to establish the Kermadec Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary, New Zealand could protect 15% of our ocean territory in one go.
     
    "We don't know which parties will make up our new government once coalition negotiations are completed, but we do know that New Zealanders all over the country will be watching for the new government to keep the Kermadec promise."
     
    The Niue government's announcement was made at the Our Ocean conference in Malta.
     
     

  • Environmental 'supergroup' puts future government on notice

    The Climate Debate in Auckland, September 2017<br />© David Tong / WWF

    A 'supergroup' of New Zealand environmental organisations has sent an open letter to the leaders of key political party leaders as they prepare to negotiate a coalition for the next Government.

    Following what's become known as the 'Environment Election', seven environmental groups have come together to congratulate political parties and politicians for their election success and for the commitments they made during the election campaign to improve the state of our environment.

    The group is reminding the parties that there is now a strong public expectation that there will be clear gains for freshwater, the climate and conservation in the next three years and is pledging to hold future leaders to their promises.

    The letter offers politicians help in achieving those key gains.

    "Environmental issues were at the centre of the 2017 election campaign. No matter who ends up in Government, they will have a clear mandate and a responsibility to take action on fresh water, climate change, and conservation. And they should know that we will be right there to make sure they do."

    The open letter is below and is online here.

    THE OPEN LETTER

    29 September 2017
     
    Rt. Hon. Bill English
    Leader, National Party
    Jacinda Ardern MP
    Leader, Labour Party  
     
    Rt. Hon. Winston Peters
    Leader, New Zealand First Party
     
    James Shaw MP
    Co Leader, Green Party
     
    Dear Party leaders,

    A winner in this year's election was the New Zealand environment. It featured as a bigger concern amongst the electorate than ever before. All of you through your party manifestos made commitments to improve the state of our environment. We congratulate you for those promises.

    As environmental leaders, we wish to offer our congratulations to all parties and to both sitting and new MPs for their election success. We also wish to acknowledge those parties and MPs who are departing Parliament and thank them for their work.
     
    There is now a strong public expectation that whichever parties form the next Government, there must be clear gains for fresh water, the climate and conservation in the next three years.

    We offer our help in achieving these gains:

    FRESHWATER

    It is clear that ecologically healthy freshwaters, and the ability of New Zealanders to safely swim in their rivers and lakes, will be a key measure of environmental success for the new Government. This can only be achieved if government facilitates and supports a transformation of the primary sector toward new, environmentally-friendly land uses and practices, coupled with tougher regulation and market signals which reflect the true costs of resource use.

    CLIMATE

    There must be a more structured and transparent approach to tackling the greatest challenge of our time – climate change.  New Zealand's emissions have continued to climb and we need an ambitious plan on how to reduce them. Transformative change is required through a new law to establish a statutory carbon budgeting process overseen by an independent Climate Commission to plan, monitor and report on the transition to net zero by 2050. Anything less betrays this and future generations.

    CONSERVATION

    The jewels in the crown of our national identity are the unique species which inhabit our lands, waters and wild places.  We need the new Government to institute real measures to protect and enhance the viability of our precious species. This includes the health of the diverse and invaluable terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems that sustain both them and valued introduced species.  An increase in funding of DOC's core budget must be a key component in that strategy.

    These issues, and the many others that fall under the umbrella of "environment", are at the heart of the richness of our quality of life in New Zealand, and underpin our international reputation. They are also at the core of a genuinely sustainable future and are therefore true legacy issues.  The natural world is our home and there are few greater gifts we can bestow our children than a vibrant, vital and healthy natural world.
     
    We promise to continue our strong advocacy for the environment and look forward to working with all political parties, both in the next government and in the opposition, to achieve positive gains for our environment.
     
    Yours sincerely

    Kevin Hague
    Forest and Bird
     
    Russel Norman
    Greenpeace New Zealand
     
    Livia Esterhazy
    WWF New Zealand
     
    Bryce Johnson
    Fish & Game New Zealand
     
    Gary Taylor
    Environmental Defence Society
     
    Guy Salmon
    Ecologic
     
    Lisa McLaren
    Generation Zero

     

  • App to Combat Kauri Dieback Disease – an Environmental Game-changer

    Daniel Bar-Even and Peter Handford, Stop Kauri Dieback <br />© Mark Coote There is a game-changing tool on the way in the war against kauri dieback disease which is having a devastating effect on New Zealand's native forests.
     
    Thanks to the 2016 WWF-New Zealand Conservation Innovation Awards, sustainable land management group Groundtruth is developing a Stop Kauri Dieback app that will support community engagement and management of kauri dieback. The fungus-like disease with no known cure is killing kauri forests in Northland, and kauri could become extinct in some locations without urgent action.
     
    Open to 15 October, the 2017 Conservation Innovation Awards is now looking for the next environmental game-changers. To submit an idea, visit wwf-nz.crowdicity.com. A prize package of $25,000 will be awarded to each of the three winners.
     
    "The Conservation Innovation Awards celebrate Kiwi innovators whose bright ideas, like the Stop Kauri Dieback app, look set to make a real difference in the fight to protect our precious ecosystems and native species," said Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand's Chief Executive Officer. "We welcome big, bold, game-changing ideas, because conservation innovation is imperative."
     
    Peter Handford and Daniel Bar-Even are behind the Stop Kauri Dieback app which is being developed in discussion with organisations fighting to save kauri.
     
    "Kauri dieback disease is having a devastating effect on the giants of our forest," Groundtruth Director, Peter Handford said. "In the past 10 years, kauri dieback has killed thousands of kauri.
     
    "To save kauri, it is critical to discover where outbreaks are occurring as soon as possible and provide people with simple steps they can take to avoid spreading the disease."
     
    Mr Handford said the app would support all forest visitors, trampers, walkers and conservation volunteers to identify and record possible sightings – and take simple steps to avoid spreading it – like washing their boots or staying away from the area.
     
    Mr Handford said winning the 2016 Conservation Innovation Award had made a big difference to this project, providing a combination of credibility and collaboration.
     
    "The Awards is a highly productive space with different individuals and organisations working together," he said. "The Awards help break down silos and promote collaborative work around innovation."
     
    The 2017 Awards are supported by The Tindall Foundation, Department of Conservation, Callaghan Innovation, Predator Free 2050 Ltd and New Zealand's Biological Heritage National Science Challenge. For information about the Awards, past winners and how to enter, visit www.wwf.org.nz/innovation

  • Nationwide search for conservation innovators kicks off

    Conservation Innovation Awards 2017 logo<br />© Weaver CreativeThe search is on for big, bold, game-changing ideas and new solutions to New Zealand's greatest environmental challenges, such as freshwater quality, climate change, species decline and invasive pests.
     
    Open today, WWF-New Zealand's 2017 Conservation Innovation Awards will reward innovative environmental game-changers. To submit your idea, visit wwf-nz.crowdicity.com. Designed to help innovators fast-track their ideas to development, the Awards cover three categories – Engaging young people and communities, Predator Free New Zealand 2050, and an Open Category. A prize package of $25,000 will be awarded to each category winner. Entries close on 15 October.
     
    "The Conservation Innovation Awards celebrate Kiwi innovators whose bright ideas will make a real difference in the fight to protect our precious ecosystems and native species," said Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand's Chief Executive Officer. "We are looking for new ideas that have practical application and that are game changers for the environment.
     
    "We encourage Kiwi innovators from all walks of life – from research labs to garden sheds and everywhere in-between – to apply their creativity and come up with ideas, new technologies or innovative projects that will aid the work of frontline conservation throughout the country and tackle conservation obstacles.
     
    "Ingenuity and innovation are characteristics that Kiwis are renowned for and the Conservation Innovation Awards has supported a number of innovative environmental solutions, including a commercial wasp bait, a freshwater testing system and an app to help kauri conservation."
     
    The 2017 Awards are supported by The Tindall Foundation, Department of Conservation, Callaghan Innovation, Predator Free 2050 Ltd and New Zealand's Biological Heritage National Science Challenge.
     
    The Awards are driven by an innovative crowd sourcing application process – where inventors, conservationists and inquiring minds can come together to propose and refine ideas in real time.
     
    "The power of the crowd is gaining momentum and for the Conservation Innovation Awards this collective approach means that ideas for furthering conservation work, which will ultimately benefit all New Zealanders, can be fine-tuned to their full potential," Ms Esterhazy said.
     
    Entrants need to submit their ideas as soon as they can at wwf-nz.crowdicity.com
     
    The 2016 Awards attracted a record 41 entries from across the country. Now in its fourth year, the winners will be announced at a ceremony in Wellington on 22 November.
     
    For information about the Awards, past winners and how to enter, visit www.wwf.org.nz/innovation

  • Great Kererū Count takes to the skies

    Kererū are a fraction of their former abundance, and play an important role in native forest ecosystems.<br />© Rosalind Cole, Department of Conservation, Crown Copyright The Great Kererū Count (GKC) takes flight today and New Zealanders across the county are asked to keep their eyes on the skies to help build up a comprehensive picture of where our native pigeon is – and isn't – found. Join the Count at www.greatkererucount.nz
     
    The 2017 Count will run from Friday 22 September to Sunday 1 October. 
     
    WWF-New Zealand's Chief Executive Officer, Livia Esterhazy said given the ecological importance of kererū, Great Kererū Count data was vital not just for protecting this species, but for ensuring the health of our forest ecosystems for future generations.
     
    "Large flocks of more than 100 kererū were once a common sight in skies over New Zealand – our ambition is to see them prolific again," Ms Esterhazy said.
     
    "We're encouraging New Zealanders to take part by counting the kererū in backyards, schools, parks or reserves. The information collected from this nation-wide project will be used to better protect kererū and to help save our native forests." 
     
    The humble kererū is one of New Zealand's most valuable assets when it comes to our native forests. Kererū are known as the 'gardeners of the skies' as they play a crucial role in dispersing seeds of native canopy trees such as tawa, taraire and matai. No other bird can fulfil this function, making the species essential for forest regeneration.
     
    Ms Esterhazy said kererū were distinctive looking birds. "Their large size and bright white singlets makes them easy to spot perched in treetops or on power lines," she said.
     
    As part of GKC 2017, Landcare Research is hosting a national Kererū Photographic Competition from 22 September – 22 October. Great prizes include a kererū shelf from Ian Blackwell, Topflite seed bells, a nectar feeder and predator control tools. Entries are welcome via the Kereru Discovery Facebook page, and on Instagram and Twitter (#GKCPhotoComp).
     
    This year, Wellington City Council has kindly donated 500 locally-sourced native plants, which are being given to residents to plant and attract kererū. The last plant giveaway is 24 September.

    Dr Stephen Hartley, Senior Lecturer in Ecology from Victoria University of Wellington, explains the scientific significance of the GKC project: "In the first few years we're building up a detailed picture of how kererū are distributed across the country, what they are feeding on, and especially the extent to which they are found in towns and cities".
     
    "Over time, we hope to discover whether numbers are increasing or decreasing and whether populations are faring better or worse in some parts of the country compared to others," Dr Hartley said.
     
    "This year we are especially keen for people to seek out new locations, as well as returning to old haunts to make timed observations of between five and 30 minutes. Even if you don't see a kererū in this time – that's still useful information and important to submit."
     
    To count kererū, people can use a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone – whatever works best for the individual.
     
    This year, there are three options to make kererū observations via www.greatkererucount.nzwww.naturewatch.org.nz or with the iNaturalist App available on iTunes and Google Play.
     
    An online map showing all sightings and a ticker with the number of birds reported, will be updated automatically as the Count progresses.
     
    The GKC is a partnership between WWF-New Zealand, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington City Council, and NatureWatch NZ and supported by regional councils, environmental groups and bird watchers throughout New Zealand.

  • Big Pre-election Climate Change Policy Debate

    Climate Debate<br />© Shutterstock / OliverSved / WWFThe environment has been a hot topic during the 2017 election campaign but one of the biggest issues, climate change, has received relatively little air time to date. That's why WWF-New Zealand is hosting a Climate Debate on 19 September 2017 in Auckland, in partnership with Oxfam New Zealand and Fossil Free University of Auckland.
     
    Political candidates from five key parties have confirmed that they are attending, including James Shaw, leader of the Green Party and Megan Woods, Labour's Climate Change spokesperson.
     
    The Climate Debate will be held from 7:00-8:30 pm on Tuesday 19 September 2017, in the AMRF Auditorium (Lecture Theatre 1) in the University of Auckland Grafton Campus, 85 Park Rd, Grafton.
     
    The Debate will follow a question and answer format, with business journalist Rod Oram asking candidates the climate questions that matter and then inviting questions from the floor.
     
    WWF-New Zealand will also stream the Debate live online via Facebook and Twitter.
     
    For more details about the Debate, visit www.wwf.org.nz/climatedebate

    The full list of candidates participating in the Debate will be announced by 15 September.

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