More than 100 people turned out to support the Department of Conservation today writing messages of support at Tauranga’s Red Square.
Forest & Bird Tauranga are hosting ‘Love DoC Day’ to express concern over the recent job cuts that will affect 24 positions in the organisation’s East-Coast/Bay of Plenty region.
Tauranga resident Bruce Trask thinks the 24 jobs cuts in DoC’s Bay of Plenty East Coast Conservancy are short-sighted by government.
The cuts include seven jobs in Gisborne, four positions in Rotorua, four in Whakatane and four jobs in Opotiki. They are part of the 140 job cuts nationwide, recently announced by the Government.
Tauranga resident Bruce Trask, who works in the environmental sector, believes the Government’s decision is “pretty short sighted”.
“These guys are out there looking after our future. I am pretty one-sided because I have heaps of grandchildren – but we need these experienced people to maintain our natural environment and those that live in it,” says Bruce.
Forest and Bird volunteer Anne Graeme is at Red Square to help rally people to write a message.
“I’ve been passionate about the environment all my life – DoC staff are the professionals in our world – us volunteers cannot do it all.”
Anne thinks it is a “cynical play” by the government to expect volunteers and corporates to take up the slack of work from the job cuts.
“We need the leadership of the field workers and their knowledge – one third of land in this country is conservation land – it is our recreation, our tourist areas and our ‘clean green’ credentials,” says Anne.
Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage says the job cuts are replacing ranger staff in the field – where the work is being done – with bureaucrats in Wellington.
The 140 jobs being lost in DOC field centres and regional centres comes while 29 new positions are being created in Wellington, says Eugenie.
“Are they taking staff out of places where they do field work to bung them offices and get volunteers to do the work – if not, what will they be doing if they’re not out in Opotiki or somewhere advocating for DoC – will they be running volunteer programmes,” asks Anne.
Forest and Bird Tauranga branch committee member Kate Graeme and volunteer Anne Graeme are encouraging people to show their love for DoC.
Forest and Bird Tauranga branch committee member Kate Graeme is pleased with the turnout today.
“Lots of people are very interested in this issue and have got very strong opinions about it – as you can see from some support messages: ‘DoC kicks ass’ and ‘We need a new Prime Minister’,” says Anne.
“The interesting thing is that we are seeing a cross-section of the public with lots of elderly people visiting us but also many young people too.
“This is about the importance of our natural environment and the need to ensure DOC is properly funded to fulfil their mandate and protect it for all New Zealanders,” says Kate.
Forest & Bird general manager Mike Britton says his organisation wants to send a powerful message to the government to cancel the cuts, and show this government that looking after DoC is an essential part of looking after New Zealand.
“This country’s national parks are at the heart of our clean green image, yet this government is forcing DoC to run on a budget less than that of the Hamilton City Council,” says Mike.
“Since 2009, $54 million has been slashed from DoC’s budget – it has lost 10 per cent of its full-time staff in the last year.”
The Public Service Association, representing more than 1400 DOC staff, is hoping communities throughout the country will get behind Forest and Bird’s Love DOC.
PSA national secretary Brenda Pilott says the planned cuts will hit frontline jobs and operations across DOC’s regional network.
“In some of the smaller regions where DoC staff not only manage conservation but are integral to their local communities, the impact of any job loss will be felt strongly,” says Brenda.
People can fill in an online form at: http://forestandbird.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=056bc28505444958c9358e331&id=67b1a5e0e7&e=f1ff1e2df1> for Forest and Bird to deliver to a local DoC office. To help share the ‘love’ wear a green ribbon and email a pic to: email@example.com or post in on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/forestandbird