Saturday, 22 May 2010

Public or private environmental conservation?

I mentioned that government involvement (or oversight) in conservation can potentially be a hindrance. Roger Beattie re-established weka in an area they had previously disappeared from, but he was struggling to farm them for food because of their endangered status.
Beattie has brought back weka from the Chatham Islands since 1994, with Department of Conservation (DOC) consent, and has settled the birds in a predator-proof enclosure.

He now plans to tackle the rules that protect buff weka on the mainland. "It's a process and could take five years, but I am going to enjoy the challenge of speeding that up," he said.

DOC believes Beattie's proposal raises questions, and the department may need legal advice.

Buff weka disappeared from the South Island in the 1930s. However, a population was established on the Chatham Islands.

...Beattie is the country's biggest individual wild paua-quota holder and a paua-pearl industry advocate. He also harvests sea kelp from Akaroa Harbour and wants to commercialise the pest seaweed undaria.

Beattie believes conservation and business go hand-in-hand. He said if there was money to be made from an endangered species, it would never die out.

Beattie said DOC's control of bird species created a protracted permit process that strangled entrepreneurial enthusiasm.
I think Beattie's comments about conservation and business are on the mark. The qualifier being that commercial interests need to produce their product, not find it, sell it, and move on. Breeding endangered plants for ornaments or construction; or endangered animals for pets, pelts, or palate, is probably the quickest way to remove them from endangered status.

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