Native biodiversity is in decline in New Zealand. Even in intensely managed areas, native species of flora and fauna are at significant risk while in unmanaged areas many are already locally extinct. Environmental degradation is severe and urgent action is warranted. While financial challenges to DOC are somewhat to blame, ignorance of the severity and urgency of this problem by the general public and an absence of a comprehensive and coherent national policy on biodiversity protection may be the greatest challenges to ecosystem health. This has resulted in a fragmented conservation 'program' in NZ, primarily funded through philanthropy and staffed with volunteers.
A TOP 7 policy needs to address this challenge at the national level. The policy should use evidence-based methods - not only for conservation practices - but also for implementation of a social education and information program to reduce public ignorance, mitigating apathy and heightening the overall awareness of the importance of natural biodiversity and its protection. Benefits of this policy aside from improvements to New Zealand's ecologic health will include employment opportunities in economically marginal regions and tourism boosts through better global perceptions.
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