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Protection of Threatened Species in New Zealand

The need to protect threatened species and facilitate their recovery to viable population levels enjoys widespread international support, but it is the domestic legal rules of individual nations that will implement international calls for protection and recovery. New Zealand purports to protect threatened species primarily with the Wildlife Act 1953, a statute whose purpose is more concerned with wildlife management than implementing a legal framework to protect threatened species. The consensus is that the Wildlife Act 1953 and other applicable legislation such as the Resource Management Act 1991 is not up to the task of protection and recovery of threatened species in New Zealand. In this article we explore how dedicated threatened species legislation in New Zealand might improve on the existing legal framework, and in particular with respect to the designation and planning on threatened species, recovery programmes and habitat protection. For an illustration of how these components may contribute to the threatened species problem we look to Canada as a nation which enacted dedicated threatened species legislation in 2002. The story thus far in Canada suggests legal rules are not a panacea for species decline, but nonetheless dedicated legislation can offer substantial benefits such as transparency and a systematic approach to species planning, better integration with resource development, and a measure of accountability in law to hold public officials to their promises on threatened species protection.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Wallace, P. J., & Fluker, S. (2016). Protection of Threatened Species in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Environmental Law, 19, 179–205.
Faculty of Law, University of Auckland
This article is published in the New Zealand Journal of Environmental Law. Used with permission.