• Nick Smith

Conservation Minister, Dr Nick Smith, in a speech to South Island high country farmers in Christchurch last night announced that funding had been confirmed to enable the Department of Conservation to contribute its fair share of Council pest and weed control programmes.

"It has been a long time gripe of farmers and Councils that the Department of Conservation has not contributed to pest and weed control programmes when land it administered was included. The Department has secured funding to pay its share of pest management strategies for the next three financial years. This decision will reduce the burden on rural ratepayers and increase the resources going into controlling major pest problems like possums, rabbits, wilding pines, gorse, broom and other noxious weeds."

Mr Smith said the funding had been a high priority as part of a wider agenda of improving the strained relationship between farmers and the Department of Conservation.

"I am delighted to announce tonight that there will be a budget initiative to see the government pick up the tab for the costs of controlling pests on crown land. This is part of the green package and a coalition initiative that "... active pest management strategies... be pursued and adequately funded."

The total funding amounts to millions of dollars over the next three years. This will be used to cover "the crown as exacerbator" costs. What this practically means is that the government will provide funding to meet its requirements under Regional Pest Management strategies.