The Government’s new National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB) is complex and cumbersome and will significantly impact sheep and beef farmers.
“There are minor changes to the original NPSIB and the concept of biodiversity credits to incentivise farmers to protect and enhance biodiversity on their land is positive, however the proposed legislation remains fundamentally flawed,” says Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).
“The definition of a Significant Natural Area (SNA) is far too broad and will capture much more than truly significant biodiversity.
Significant areas of sheep and beef farms are likely to be captured, which will limit what farmers can do on that land, tying farmers up in red tape and devaluing farms. Those that have done the most to protect their biodiversity will be the most impacted.
“The biodiversity credit could offset some impact but will require a lot of work and it is unlikely to compensate for the fundamentally flawed underlying regulation.”
B+LNZ supports the maintenance and enhancement of indigenous biodiversity because it is important to sheep and beef farmers who are actively protecting and restoring indigenous habitats, said Mr McIvor.
“Indigenous biodiversity is hugely important to our farmers. Sheep and beef farmers are already looking after a large portion of indigenous biodiversity with 24 per cent of the country’s native vegetation cover on sheep and beef farms, second only to the conservation estate.
“It is critical that work is recognised and rewarding this is something B+LNZ has been working hard for many years. Biodiversity should be an asset and we welcome that being recognised.
“However, the NPSIB itself will add substantial costs and a significant time burden on landowners and likely still make biodiversity a liability.
“That is not the outcome we would want to see for our farmers or for New Zealand. The Government clearly hasn’t listened to the concerns of many respected biodiversity experts.”
B+LNZ wants an integrated approach that supports landowners to integrate and manage biodiversity as part of productive farming systems, and where their efforts are recognised, says Mr McIvor.
Among the improvements to the NPSIB is a requirement for regional councils to physically inspect a proposed SNA if it is disputed by a landowner.
There are also some minor amendments around established use and maintenance of improved pasture, which will help ensure grazing and pasture maintenance can continue.
Finally, some changes to qualification criteria will mean that species like matagouri, manuka and kanuka that are present and wide-ranging across some farms are far less likely to trigger SNA identification.
“While these changes are positive, we are still concerned that they have not gone far enough to ensure that SNAs are only identified for the most significant and important biodiversity,” says Mr McIvor.
“Over the coming weeks, we will be analysing the changes in detail and considering what they mean in conjunction with the consultation around biodiversity credits.
“Sheep and beef farmers are facing significant regulatory and economic challenges. As it stands, this NPSIB will have a major impact on our sector.”
For more information, please contact: Sam Halstead, 027 474 6065 or firstname.lastname@example.org