Hundreds of conservation projects hang in the balance as the clock ticks down on government funding.
The $50 billion Covid-19 response fund was used to support businesses and the economy in the acute stages of the pandemic. Of that, $1b allocated in Budget 2020 went into conservation projects via Jobs For Nature.
The stimulus package proved to be a lifeline for small tourist towns, where as many as half of all jobs disappeared when the borders closed. Since then, some 500 Jobs For Nature projects - employing 12,500 - have supported initiatives to put more than eight million plants in the ground, restore 4,500 hectares of freshwater, and bring two million hectares of land under pest control.
It has also seen 3,000 people enter formal conservation-based training. But with funding set to end in June 2024, advocates say some projects should continue to be funded.
PredatorFree NZ chief executive Jessi Morgan and Southern Lakes Sanctuary project director Paul Kavanagh speak to Kathryn.