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Scientists, academics question NZ gov't environment credentials

(Xinhua)

09:06, December 08, 2011

WELLINGTON, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- More than 100 of New Zealand's leading scientists and academics Wednesday issued an open letter to the government, warning that cuts to the country's conservation agency could lead to "oblivion" for threatened species and ecosystems.

"We wish to register our collective dismay at the current restructuring of the Department of Conservation," said the letter signed by 107 scientific experts, which was released during the 25th International Congress for Conservation Biology 2011 being held in Auckland.

The group of conservation biologists and scientists from universities and institutes around the country warned in the letter addressed to Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson that the planned loss of almost 100 jobs over the next six months would seriously erode the Department of Conservation's efforts in conservation management and planning, as many species and ecosystems "teeter on the edge of oblivion."

The signatories said the "ongoing reduction in capacity, support and funding for New Zealand conservation" was undermining the work of dedicated, passionate staff whose expertise had saved from extinction unique New Zealand species such as the kakapo, takahe, saddleback and Chatham Island robin.

Even during the global economic downturn, New Zealand needed a well-funded Department of Conservation to ensure its "100% Pure New Zealand" branding to attract tourists and sell quality agricultural produce, they said.

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