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DOC job cuts a threat to NZ, says Forest and Bird

Apr 4th, 2013 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, Most Popular, News

CONSERVATIONISTS are disappointed that the Department of Conservation has let go 140 paid staff and they say it will be bad for wildlife.

Independent conservation organisation Forest and Bird believes the environment will suffer as a result of DOC’s decision to replace some frontline staff with volunteers.

Forest and Bird spokesman Kevin Hackwell says he is all for volunteer work but this latest change will not work as well as using  paid workers.

“Volunteers are crucial to conservation in New Zealand, but DOC has a unique role in protecting remote parts of the country and their threatened plants and animals.

“These remote areas are impossible for volunteers to reach regularly.

“When we go to hospital for an operation, we expect our surgeon to be a properly qualified professional – we don’t expect to find a volunteer doing the job.”

Of the 140 jobs being lost, 118 are administrative roles, but the redundancies follow 120 job losses last year and several consecutive years of lay-offs.

In the past four years, DOC’s operating budget has been slashed by $25 million and now stands at $335 million, which upsets Mr Hackwell.

“The government is putting huge pressure on DOC to cut costs and we’re very concerned that the department’s response to those cuts will significantly undermine both its professional capacity and its ability to deliver good conservation management.

“DOC plays a crucial role in protecting New Zealand’s clean green brand. That brand is worth billions to this country.”

DOC director-general Al Morrison has said  the job losses are part of a department restructure and not due to funding cuts.

“DOC must adapt if it is going to meet the conservation challenges that New Zealand faces. Even if you doubled DOC’s budget tomorrow, we would still be going ahead with this proposal,” he said.

Mr Morrison says that the department will operate out of six bigger regions instead of 11 smaller ones.

DOC will continue to operate out of the same number of offices as now with more than 1200 workers. Temporary staff will fill gaps left behind by those made redundant.

The size of the proposal is aimed at ensuring DOC meets its $8.7 million savings targets and continues to do its job, says Mr Morrison.

 

 

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