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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

Question No. 6—Conservation

6. RACHEL BROOKING (Labour) to the Minister of Conservation: How has Jobs for Nature supported employment opportunities and conservation efforts across the country?

Hon POTO WILLIAMS (Minister of Conservation): Fakaalofa lahi atu, Mr Speaker. Jobs for Nature continues to provide positive outcomes for our natural environment by employing New Zealanders, up and down the country, to plant trees, build fences, and restore habitats. Across all Jobs for Nature projects combined, funding has been provided to support over 2.5 million hours of work to provide a positive and lasting impact on the social, economic, and environmental values of this unique region, as well as create an enduring conservation legacy.

Rachel Brooking: What milestones have been met by Jobs for Nature since it began?

Hon POTO WILLIAMS: Since the programme began in 2020, more than 2,000 kilometres of tracks have been maintained. That’s more than the length of the State Highway 1; 7,000 hectares of riparian planting, protecting New Zealand’s waterways, have been completed, which is the equivalent to 7,000 rugby fields; and 56,000 hectares of weeding has taken place, an area larger than the size of Wellington.

Rachel Brooking: How has Jobs for Nature supported employment opportunities and conservation efforts in Southland?

Hon POTO WILLIAMS: The Jobs for Nature project Te Tapu o Tāne is supporting the Southland economy by setting up three native plant nursery businesses, providing an ongoing environmental resource for the region through enhanced native tree supply, greater skilled labour, and wider knowledge of restoration practices.

Rachel Brooking: What other Jobs for Nature projects have supported employment opportunities and conservation efforts in the regions?

Hon POTO WILLIAMS: Jobs for Nature has been instrumental in retaining talent in our regions. On the West Coast, Jobs for Nature has leveraged off the existing restoration work at Bullock Creek by expanding the work further, with a focus on wetland restoration. The project will create up to 40 employment opportunities, and planting an estimated 478,000 native trees over 153 hectares of land.

Hon Eugenie Sage: What benefits, if any, does she see in extending Jobs for Nature beyond its June 2024 end date, and what advice has she sought from the Department of Conservation on extending it?

Hon POTO WILLIAMS: Sustaining the benefits and outcomes created by these projects is now a key focus area of the department. Prior to being allocated funding, projects are assessed against an investment framework, which included sustainability of outcomes. Many project partners have built this into project planning already, with iwi, council, community, or other groups committing to undertake maintenance work in future years or active plans in place to secure future funding.