Goodbye Freddie: Slashing Significant Natural Areas will result in the extinction of our native species

Image of an Archey's frog
© Paul Schilov / Department of Conservation
Press Release

The Government’s announcement today that councils will no longer be required to comply with Significant Natural Area rules is another nail in the coffin for New Zealand’s threatened wildlife, says the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) New Zealand.

Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) are Aotearoa New Zealand’s most important remaining native habitats and are relied upon by rare plants and wildlife species that are on the brink of extinction.

Suspending the need for councils to comply with SNA rules - a requirement that has been in place for decades, and only recently clarified by the gazettal of the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity - is the latest affront in the Government’s systematic attack on the natural world, says WWF-New Zealand CEO, Dr Kayla Kingdon-Bebb.

“Aotearoa New Zealand is in the midst of a biodiversity crisis, with over 4,000 of our native species on the brink of extinction. At a time when nature needs our help more than ever, it’s astonishing that the Government would axe the few protections in place for our native wildlife.

“This Government isn’t idly sitting by while our native species creep towards extinction – they seem to be actively trying to speed up the process,” she says.

Dr Kingdon-Bebb also argues that today’s move puts New Zealand on a continued course to breaching its Free Trade Agreements with the UK and EU - putting our primary producers at a competitive disadvantage.

WWF and other environmental groups have previously argued that the Government’s plans to slash New Zealand’s environmental regulations mean it is failing to meet the terms of the billion-dollar deal negotiated with the UK - which explicitly requires that both governments do not lessen their respective levels of environmental protection.

“This is the latest assault in this Government’s unprecedented and unnecessary war on nature. And it’s not just about nature for nature’s sake; by slashing these environmental protections, this Government is also shooting our primary producers in the foot and putting our economy at risk. It’s narrow-minded, short-term thinking of the worst variety, and New Zelanders deserve better,” says Dr Kingdon-Bebb.