DOC is one of the most responsible rural landlordsConservation
Claims from the farming sector that the Department of Conservation is a negligent landlord do not bear scrutiny, Conservation Minister Chris Carter said today.
"DOC is engaged in undoing damage to natural landscapes all over the country. It is a careful steward of New Zealand's native species and its international reputation for cutting edge conservation speaks for itself," Mr Carter said.
"I was amazed and disappointed to read National MP David Carter's claims that DoC spends 20 cents a hectare on weed control in the South Island. The public deserves more from an elected representative. Even the most basic check would have confirmed that this figure is totolly incorrect," Chris Carter said.
"In fact DOC spends on average $13.80 a hectare nationally in areas where it conducts weed control," Mr Carter said.
"Even if you spread this out across all 8 million hectares of conservation land, DOC's expenditure on weed control still comes in at $1.29 a hectare. That said, DOC does not need to control weeds on mountains, glaciers or dense native forests, and those types of environments make up a large part of conservation lands. For this reason, DoC targets weed control at areas where it is needed most.
"At Molesworth Station, there has been no legal requirement for DoC to spend any money on pest or weed control in the area whatsoever because it has not been under its management. Despite this, DOC spent $168,000 on weed and pest control in and around Molesworth last financial year, and will spend a similar amount this year," Mr Carter said.
"Rural communities benefit hugely from the work DOC does. It is the single biggest provider of rural fire services in New Zealand. It spends millions controlling possums, a known vector for bovine TB, and it provides a massive recreational infrastructure which delivers economic benefits to rural communities the length of the country."