New Zealand's newest political party, Sustainable NZ, has launched today with a promise of increasing Conservation funding by $1 billion over four years in a bid to halt the extinction of native species.
Leader Vernon Tava said the funding could come from New Zealand First's $3 billion provincial growth fund.
And he has endorsed the use of gene technology to help reduce predators.
He described the party as a "full-time environment party".
"Until now, if you had wanted to vote for the environment, you have had to support a party that has been a clearing-house for New Zealand's left-of-Labour activist movements, often putting social justice ahead of protecting the environment."
Tava is a former Green Party member and unsuccessfully stood as male leader in 2015 against James Shaw, arguing at the time that the party should be able to partner Labour or National in Government, against its traditional position of ruling out National.
At the launch in Wellington day, Tava said his party would put the environment first.
"A true sustainability-based party can work with either of the major parties to get the best deal for the environment. We are that party."
He said the party would work with rather than against farmers and industry.
The party was pro-progress, pro-technology and pro-science.
"A clean, green prosperous New Zealand could be a world leader in clean-tech innovation.
"We are at a fortunate juncture in history where clean-tech is driving the next wave of economic activity by eliminating wasteful and harmful byproducts, delivering more with less."
Tava said party policy would be informed by science and her had already criticised Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage curbing research on gene technology.
"The latest techniques can be likened to accelerated selective breeding. They show huge promise in the control of introduced predators and in reducing livestock emissions."
He said gene technology was still in its infancy "yet these powerful tools are denied us based on an ideological position formed in the 1970s, before current technologies were developed.
He also expressed concern about the widespread planting of pine trees under the Government's one billion trees policy.
Tava paid tribute to former party secretary, former head of the Fire Service Mike Hall, who was killed in a plane crash in the Tararua ranges last month.
He announced the party's principles and conservation policy including a target for conservation spending to comprise one per cent of Government spending by 2025.
• Enhance and restore healthy ecosystems.
- Protect our native plant and animal species from habitat loss and degradation.
- Aim to make 2050 Predator Free.
- Partner with communities and businesses to build a team of 4.7 million New Zealanders working together to protect the natural environment.
- Wage war on weeds and wilding conifers.
- Apply the best science and modern technology to advance conservation.
- Support improved on the ground farm management to protect ecosystems.
- Extend the national network of marine protected areas.
- Provide $1 billion conservation funding boost over four years to restore and enhance our ecosystems:
- Extend the significant natural areas under active pest management from under 50per cent to 75 per cent plus of New Zealand's significant natural ecosystems.
- Double core funding for Predator Free 2050 to $19 million a year.
- Increase Department of Conservation (DOC) funding to maintain, restore and protect ecosystems, habitats and species by 10 per cent or $26.374 million a year.
- Protect areas of high ecological value through purchase or covenant by doubling the Nature Heritage Fund to $12.194 million a year.
- Double the funding for the protection and management of Historic Heritage to $11.62 million a year.
- Increase funding of DOC's Conservation in the Community programme of public
education and building conservation partnerships by 10 per cent or $3.86 million a year.
• Increase the Crown's contribution to the QEII Trust by 50 per cent or $1.706 million a year.
- Fund the SPCA to support responsible cat and dog management at $0.5 million a year.
- Wage war on wilding pines and pest plants by investing an extra $26 million a year into the delivery of Regional Council Pest Management Plans - an average of $2 million for each Regional Council shifting the burden from the ratepayer to the taxpayer.
- Spend an extra $6 million a year on wallaby control and eradication.
- Spend $60 million more a year on the National Science Challenges to advance new pest-control technologies and eco-system based management of natural resources.
- Increase the recently announced Sustainable Land Use Fund by $95 million a year for practical advice and support to implement integrated farm management plans.