Sage gets the money

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, March 5th, 2019 - 47 comments
Categories: Conservation, Environment, farming, greens, sustainability - Tags:

I’d like to give a shoutout to Minister Eugenie Sage for securing some solid funding increases for her Conservation portfolio.

The first is in baseline funding from this years’ 2019 Budget, of $76 million. It’s got a particular focus on saving animals. This funding was first proposed in 2018 but awaited the business case.

So as a result we will see better protection of 70% of the top 850 ecosystem sites. That’s up from 17%. We’re also going to see a lot more priority freshwater catchments actively managed.

There’s also a doubling of the advocacy work for DoC. Hopefully this doesn’t mean advocacy straight to Thompson Clark to surveil every activist they don’t take a shine to.

Ideally DoC should do better actual protection of our wild areas than Forest and Bird does. At the moment IMHO, it doesn’t and carries a woeful record of doing the government’s bidding to ruin and trade our forest away, as in the Ruataniwha Dam debacle, and other instances.

We also get an additional six islands protected from predator incursions.

But wait there’s more. In an announcement with Shane Jones a couple of weeks ago, the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is making a $19.5 million investment to expand predator control with better techniques. In part that means once you’ve cleared an area, find ways to keep them down and out without using 1080. I’ll be damned if I can find any increase in jobs for the regions within this $19.5m, but who cares if you’re trying to save what is left of natural New Zealand.

Great work Minister Sage and DoC staff for doing the hard yards and securing the money. I think I have had a crack or two at you recently for not delivering the goods. This is delivery.

While I’m at it, however, this government has achieved very little expansion of the DoC estate. Why not work with your colleague the Minister of Land Information to translate that High Country Leases work into a proper reward for New Zealand in an actual high country National Park. Oh whoops, that’s the same person.

Since they proposed it, the members of the Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand and Forest and Bird would welcome some actual expansion of the DoC National Park estate, rather than wasteful low-reward-high-damage farming. Every Labour-led government generates a new national park (the previous National government didn’t), and it’s time to put big campaign proposals into play.

Top work Minister; but raise the bar on yourself now.

47 comments on “Sage gets the money”

  1. WeTheBleeple 1

    Fantastic news. Thanks.

  2. Gosman 2

    Less Sage and more The Greens as part of their coalition agreement.

  3. vto 3

    Will this reversal undo the massive damage and funding cuts that the National Party government and Nick Smith did during their tenure?

    • Robert Guyton 3.1

      And bring back those once passionate and dedicated field workers who left the department, demoralised.

  4. Ferret 4

    Good work Eugenie. It is a pity though she has taken anti-scientific stance to proscribe genetic modification research for the pest-free fund. It is a terrible for the Green Party to take an anti-science approach to any question, but particularly to this one. It is the equivalent of supporting the anti-vaxxers. On every other issue the Green Party prides itself on taking an evidence-based approach. This anti-science decision completely undermines the overall rational stance of the Green Party, particularly in respect to Climate Change, which in the greater scheme of things is far more important than the pest-free fight.

    • esoteric pineapples 4.1

      “It is a pity though she has taken anti-scientific stance to proscribe genetic modification research for the pest-free fund.”

      Probably driven by a desperation to find an alternative to 1080 because of the guerilla campaign being carried out by Taliban 1080.

      • esoteric pineapples 4.1.1

        “It is a pity though she has taken anti-scientific stance to proscribe genetic modification research for the pest-free fund.”

        I may have mis-interpreted this comment. Is ES against funding research for genetic modification, or for it?

    • It is a pity though she has taken anti-scientific stance to proscribe genetic modification research for the pest-free fund.

      You bet. I realise there would be a lot of issues with actually trying to implement any GE-based measures, but a blanket refusal to even fund any research into potential GE-based measures is appalling.

      • RedLogix 4.2.1

        It’s irrational in many ways, but somehow I can’t quite rid myself of a certain dread about genetic engineering.

        • Andre 4.2.1.1

          I’m curious about your “a certain dread” of genetic engineering. Is it a vague formless thing, or are there definite issues it’s located around?

          If it’s issues, is it something like frankenfoods, or the risks of say developing a gene drive to rid NZ of possums then some malicious fuckwit spreading it across the Tasman, or something other?

          • RedLogix 4.2.1.1.1

            Maybe I just read too many sf plots where it all went horribly wrong 😨

            But yes it’s potentially a poor man’s nuke, and no shortage of malicious fuckwits.

            • One Two 4.2.1.1.1.1

              Based on the track record …your thoughts are entirely rational, RL…

              Humans ‘playing god’ and the immeasurable hubris has led into every major issue now being faced…man made…

              Hubris believes ‘playing god’ can be the solution…

              That is the very definition of irrational…and many other traits which have …and will continue to ensure the decline on planet earth…

      • Sanctuary 4.2.2

        +10000

        The Greens have painted themselves into a corner on GE with their hysterical rhetoric on the issue and somehow they’ve got to be made to see scientific reality and common sense.

        • greywarshark 4.2.2.1

          Seeing scientific reality and common sense. That is just what the Greens are showing. Once brought in with our free market anything goes, if it makes money track record, we would be overwhelmed with problems and lose any control. Though this wouldn’t be admitted except by a leak after five years, then a Royal Commission after twenty years.

          We can’t control our borders where present things are getting through. How do you control corporates who given an inch will take a mile. They will make money from findings and we will be left with their failed field trial results, and the escapes from the labs. If GE or GM is needed, better to get a foreign lab to do it. You can criticise this but if they are already doing it, let them do ours as well. We don’t need to put another nail in the coffin we are constructing for ourselves already.

        • KJT 4.2.2.2

          See 4.4. Below.

    • One Two 4.3

      Yesterday it was psych nurse saying ‘anti-medication’ and ‘anti-vax’..

      Today it a ferret calling out ‘anti-sciene and anti-vax’…

      Using such low rent smears makes identifying the true ‘anti-science ‘ simpletons…far…too…easy…

      Try not being so ‘anti’, ferret…you may actually onboard some knowledge along the way…

    • KJT 4.4

      Being precautionary, is not, anti science!

      You are aware, of course, that funding for research into the safety of GE, is only a hundreth, of that for applications.

      • Andre 4.4.1

        Why might there be very little research into the safety of GE relative to efforts going into creating new GE organisms?

        Could it be that those with the skills to do that research look at the huge body of safety research and product safety testing that has already been done that’s concluded there is no general safety problem with GE, and decided they have better things to do than spend a whole lot more time and money proving a big fat nothing? And that regulatory bodies around the world are generally much stricter on safety testing GE organisms than others, including mutation bred organisms that generally don’t get safety tested?

        Particularly when they have good reason to think their research showing there’s no problem will just get ignored by the anti-GE cultists anyway.

        • KJT 4.4.1.1

          Unfortunately I cannot cite the research, unless those here have access to the research journal databases, such as J Stor. A problem with a lot of science.
          But publicly funded research is not all rosy, about GE, and other genetic changes.

          Not just GE, insufficient attention is paid to the long term effects of, even, “natural breeding”. Think of the effects of a pathogen on all the mono-cultures, of the same grain type, used for agriculture worldwide. Or closer to home. Your pet bulldog puppy bred with a squashed nose. The resulting breathing problems, and short life. Imagine, a GE change to wheat, the equivalent of the short nosed puppy, spreading through our seed crops.

          Science, says, a precautionary approach is appropriate.

          GE, may, in some cases, turn out to be for good. The potential harm is, however, frightening.

          Do we want the equivalent of “puppy mills” to decide on crop, or animal, genetic modifications.

          The fact that we have to pay to access State funded research, and have to rely on “journalist” etc, whose organisations can afford the access, is another issue.

          • Psycho Milt 4.4.1.1.1

            Science, says, a precautionary approach is appropriate.

            It also says don’t bother trying to prove a negative. With GE, the precautionary part’s been done already. The only outstanding bit is how to regulate its use.

            • KJT 4.4.1.1.1.1

              I would argue that the research into benefits of, saleable GE technology, has been done.

              Matching research into the side effects, of the same GE, has not been done.

              I have high hopes of GE. The potential in removing genetic diseases is one result, which I am sure we will all like to see.

              • greywarshark

                KKJT
                A large amount of the world’s population will have to be retired. Getting rid of genetic diseases is the least of our problems. Can people not look up from their keyboards and think about the unpleasant facts for a short time?

              • greywarshark

                KJT
                A large amount of the world’s population will have to be retired. Getting rid of genetic diseases is the least of our problems. Can people not look up from their keyboards and think about the unpleasant facts for a short time?

                We might be able to conduct an experiment on us in NZ. We have got wages down to below what is needed; if we help couples into homes and pay them extra for living very adequately when they have only one child, but only a small grant per week for the second, and none for the third, we can utlise the money side of it to affect behaviour. Other countries will start to see the advantage of this and we can stop doubling world population in 30? years.

          • Andre 4.4.1.1.2

            A key point about genetic engineering is that it greatly reduces the risk of collateral problems such as poor breathing or hip dysplasia in dogs. Because the genetic modification precisely targets the traits of interest, rather than relying on random mutations across the entire genome that may cause other changes that aren’t tested for.

            It’s also the case that right now, the precision of GE vs the randomness of conventional methods notwithstanding, GE products are much more extensively safety tested than conventionally bred products. And mutation breeding falls under the umbrella of conventionally bred. Go figure.

            I continue to be utterly gobsmacked by the continued easy acceptance of mutation bred organisms that get released with much less safety testing than GE products. Seriously, if there’s a technology that’s going to unleash the triffids or create something that’s going to go Audrey II on our asses, it’s using radiation and/or seriously mutagenic chemicals to induce massive numbers of random mutations across the entire genome, then screening and selecting the resulting mutants only according to the one or few traits of interest. Those HT swedes that poisoned the southland cattle a few years back were mutation bred, BTW.

            Don’t take my word for it, research it yourself. If you google something like mutation breeding organics you’ll get tons of info.

            As for the broader point of the problems and risks of monoculture, yes there are problems. That are the subject of extensive research already, from the pathogen, soil health, ecosystem health and a bunch of other perspectives. But none of that is an argument against GE, it’s an argument against big corporate farming models.

            The opposition to GE, because corporates, is complete misdirection. Corporates have done and will continue to do the same shitty things with or without GMOs. But foregoing the possible benefits of GMO technology for useful non-profit public good is just dumb.

            • KJT 4.4.1.1.2.1

              I am not anti GE, necessarily. And, I am also aware of the pitfalls of both mutagenic and natural, genetic modification. The precautionary principle, including testing in isolation, should be applied, there, also.

              I’ve seen research into the long term effects of some, not all, GE, which has, not very good outcomes, to say the least.

              However I do know who has paid for the bulk of GE research. The same people that paid for the research into, glysophate safety!

              Suspicion, in this case, is warranted on the evidence.

              Humans, are too good at making large scale irreversible changes, because some money can be made, without due consideration to the consequences.

        • Jess NZ 4.4.1.2

          I am really tired of hearing there’s no research showing problems.

          Here are some studies done in NZ.

          ‘In 1994 PPL set up a flock of sheep under IAG approval in Whakamaru. Up to 10,000 conventional ewes were mated with GE rams in order to produce human alpha-1 antitrypsin (hAAT) protein for cystic fibrosis sufferers in the milk of their progeny. The sheep were East Friesians, chosen for their high milk and lambing percentage. But lambing rates were low (6%) and the GE sheep were susceptible to disease and arthritis.

          Bayer conducted clinical trials on humans using PPL’s hAAT protein. These were stopped six months into the trials because of immune system and respiratory problems experienced by the participants, and this bankrupted PPL. The 3000 GE sheep were incinerated and buried in the paddock.’

          And more of the stories in the link…

          https://organicnz.org.nz/magazine-articles/ge-nz-trials-errors/

          Benefit and safety needs to be shown, but using independent researchers. not GE profiteers, because industry bias has been shown repeatedly to influence test results. If NZ wants to adopt these new technologies, we need to be genuinely responsible, not just excited and keen for money. https://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g5741

          • Andre 4.4.1.2.1

            That OrganicNZ article talks about failed trials. Those were problems that were found during testing. They were not released for commercial use to cause problems to the public. That makes those examples an argument for continuing to trial products before release, but they do not make the case that GMOs are more dangerous than conventionally bred (including mutation bred) organisms.

            The BMJ article talks about funding bias in research results. That problem applies to all sides of an argument – including the need to carefully examine assertions made by GE-Free NZ published in an organics industry promotional rag.

            • Jess NZ 4.4.1.2.1.1

              And you call ‘anti-GE’ people a cult! What a backbending spin 🙂

              The research result bias doesn’t extend to reporting on actual studies by the media, but the results reported within the study itself when an industry funds it with the intent to market the result. Like testing for GE products. Feel free to find parallel studies funded by the organics industry. Good luck.

              But if you like, here is another reason why GE trials are dangerous in themselves, the acknowledged fact that the modified versions ‘escape’.

              http://www.i-sis.org.uk/new_route_for_GM_gene_escape.php

              • Andre

                Yes, that piece correctly identifies a long-acknowledged potential mechanism for genetic material to spread beyond the originally modified organism when older “gene gun” or plasmid injection techniques are used for the genetic modification. Where the genetic modification ends up being carried on free-floating bits of DNA within the cell. But I’ve yet to read of demonstrated instances of this happening in the field, although I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if it was found to be a factor in the appearance of Roundup-resistant weeds.

                Which is one reason why researchers are now much more interested in newer techniques such as CRISPR which act directly on a much more stable part of the genome. Another big reason is the much greater precision capabilities of the newer techniques with much lower risk of collateral changes.

              • WeTheBleeple

                Andre won’t cede that GE has been over-hyped yet under-studied this entire time. he’s been fed the standard line and pushes it incessantly. Nothing to see here, you are anti-science, anti-progress etc.

                He seems intelligent but for the inability to cede on this.

                GE has tremendous potential in medicine and research, but not in my larder thank you.

                One gene is normally the positive or negative feedback for another process, that will in turn up or down-regulate other genes. And we’ve barely a clue what’s going on.

                The human genome project was going to give all the answers. But it didn’t did it. It left questions, more and more of them as time goes on.

                And what of biodiversity lost to monoclonal organisms, and what of evolution in the face of change. Will we select a trait and lose the race.

                We are terrible stewards of nature. Pompously arrogant, cocksure fools.

                Hubris, and then hubris, and again.

                Mutation is worse is not an argument that makes GE = good.

        • Jess NZ 4.4.1.3

          Some more problems shown by research…again, more instances in the link.

          ‘However, a 10-year-study in northern China found that the growth of GE cotton was promoting the rise in other insects that had previously been less common. Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences tracked pest populations at 38 locations, including three million hectares of cotton and 26 million hectares of other crops. Published in May 2010 in Science, the study found that mirid bugs, have increased more than 12 times since 1997. These bugs had previously only been minor problems but are now threats to other vegetable and fruit crops.’

          http://www.greenpeace.org/eastasia/campaigns/food-agriculture/science/ge-crop-research/

          • Andre 4.4.1.3.1

            I followed the link to the ScienceDaily summary, and this caught my eye.

            More specifically, our analyses show that Bt cotton has become a source of mirid bugs and that their population increases are related to drops in insecticide use in this crop.

            “their population increases are related to drops in insecticide use”. How is this a problem that can be sheeted home to the growing of GE cotton?

            I followed the link about caddisfly larvae possibly being affected by Bt corn detritus getting blown into waterways. The article was full of “could” statements, but zero actual measurements of actual effects in the waterways that *could* have been affected. Let alone any discussion of how the increased use of pesticides that would accompany growing non-Bt corn would affect insect life in those waterways.

            Overall it looked to me like another Greenpeace misrepresentation effort to justify their ongoing anti-GE stance. Not any kind of balanced look at what is going on.

            • Jess NZ 4.4.1.3.1.1

              I understand how your attitude requires you to be skeptical of these reports, and it’s not going to be worth my energy ping-ponging my interpretation vs yours, although plenty springs to mind. Please don’t confuse your interpretation with balance.

              I will point out that
              1) All reputable science reports in ‘coulds’
              2) the precautionary principle requires precisely that we examine the ‘coulds’ and not wait for the ‘oh, shits!’

              The documented GE failures, and what happens to the GE organisms, is quite chilling. If we’re going to experiment, it needs to be really clear that we have an unusual benefit as the aim to be worth the risk, not just one more patentable product that boosts profits for a while.

              • Andre

                Reputable science, like the kind Mike Joy does, reports actual measurements and actual effects in the field when the intent is to draw actual conclusions. The caddisfly piece was at best just fishing for funding to do more work to get to that point.

        • Jess NZ 4.4.1.4

          And experiments on transgenic cows and sheep, in NZ.

          ‘After 15 years, these transgenic animal experiments have been an expensive failure. Members of
          the public have expressed serious concerns about the cruelty and unnecessary suffering the
          sentient animals have endured, which has largely been ignored by ERMA/EPA.’

          …’The transgenic animal experiments were not for the benefit of people per se, as the drugs were
          already on the market. They were, it seems, intended as a competitive and cost effective solution
          to the production of pharmaceutical proteins extracted from the milk of GE animals. The Bio ethics
          Council52 set up to advise on cultural, ethical, and spiritual aspects of biotechnology
          was disbanded in 2009, leaving a void in the ethical and moral issues of using animals as
          bioreactors. ‘

          https://www.gefree.org.nz/assets/pdf/GE-Animals-in-New-Zealand.pdf

          • Andre 4.4.1.4.1

            Is there anything in this link that’s not about the failed trials talked about in your first OrganicsNZ link? It’s an awful lot to wade through for just a repeat.

  5. Moggles 5

    If she gets the Environmental Legal Assistance (ELA) fund reinstated that will demonstrate she’s not just a top down minister. It’s a drop in the ocean of the numbers talked about in the article.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/94323541/quiet-change-to-public-fund-for-environmental-legal-challenges

  6. RedLogix 6

    Good. In the correct direction at last. Not the doubling of budget that I would love to see, but welcome all the same.

    Now comes the hard part, turning budget into results on the ground.h

  7. gsays 7

    Congratulations Minister Sage and Greens.

    As to the issue with DOC/Thompson and Clark, have the head honchos in DOC, that okayed and condoned the spying been cleared out?
    Or have they just promised not to be caught using T/C again?

  8. Stuart Munro. 8

    As always, a funding grant is as much a challenge as an opportunity.

    I’m still waiting on action on water and farms being sold offshore, neither of which seem to be funding issues per se.

    But as the effects of pollution and AGW begin to impact our environment on a broad front, it’s time we saw some broad measures calculated to alleviate them.

    These might include:

    A plastic burning thermal electricity plant. Not the ideal endpoint for plastics that should be recycled, but a necessary part of the recycling chain that deals with contaminated, odd or mixed plastics unsuitable for other recycling processes.

    In the absence of other plastic recycling, granulizing or pelleting will reduce recyclable plastics in volume and make them ready to serve as feedstocks as full recycling operations come onstream.

    A river restoration initiative, that combines aeration, plastic catchers, and planting with inspections to find and resolve polluters and unsustainable irrigation takes.

    Biodegradeable but relatively longlife disposable bait stations suitable for air dropping, so that poisoning campaigns are restricted to the pest species targeted.

    A maritime ecology review – since fisheries do not even begin to credibly manage our littoral resources and treasures.

  9. greywarshark 9

    This is just one of the things that is going to be done. Go conservation! – and the environment (and green jobs).

    https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/383990/manuka-planting-scheme-takes-on-first-20-workers-in-north

    The 20 young men from Moerewa and Kaikohe will get to work in the hills behind Moerewa, replacing what was once pine forest with manuka, with plans to feed local honey and oil industries.

    They are the first intake of Nga Mahuri o Ngati Hine – the saplings of Ngati Hine – a two-year training programme funded by the government.

    Moerewa and Kaikohe are towns struggling from high rates of unemployment and the men were handpicked by local contractor Jack Johnson, as those most likely to succeed and remain in the scheme.

    The launch yesterday was attended by foresters, trainees, government officials and Ngati Hine at Otiria marae.

    Ngati Hine Foresty Trust chairperson Peter Tipene said the scheme was as much about contributing towards the tribal good as it was about providing jobs.

    • WeTheBleeple 9.1

      That is awesome. Will they be silly enough to just grow a monoculture of manuka though? Talk about a fire/erosion risk…

      Here’s hoping there’s some smart Kaitiaki involved.

  10. greywarshark 10

    Could be that they have set up the project to provide a commercial crop and that is the whole thought. What would you suggest – one umbrella shaped tree amongst every four manuka giving some protection and shade also? Or lines of a relatively inflammable trees with manuka growing between them?

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