“Are we too focused on iconic species rather than restoring whole ecosystems?” he asks.
“With over 8 million hectares of public conservation lands, the challenge of looking after our special places is enormous.
"We need to keep questioning just what is our long term vision for protected areas.”
He also wonders about the effectiveness of connecting young New Zealanders, and New Zealanders in general to our conservation values.
Associate Professor Abbott is an organiser of PA2050, a conference at Lincoln University on June 20 and 21, which has some high profile speakers to address the issues, and help chart a strategy to keep them protected. These include the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and DOC director General Lou Sanson.
The conference title is a reference to the Government’s 2050 predator free policy, but goes further, asking how the land itself will be managed to ensure biodiversity and well-being.
“This also includes our marine areas, which span the land, freshwater, marine and Antarctic environments, for which we are kaitiaki.”
As well as tourism relying on a clean green image, many tourists will head into our protected areas, and Chair of the New Zealand Tourism Board Kerry Prendergast, also Chair of the Environmental Protection Authority, is among the speakers.
Lincoln has reinstituted a Parks and Recreation major, and is offering DOC scholarships in the area, as well as having a long-term commitment in tourism teaching.
In addition a new Lincoln University initiative is responding to the need for new ways of using our land more productively while ensuring New Zealand’s future prosperity and enhancing lives.The initiative, called Designing Future Productive Landscapes, is a multi-disciplinary approach, which could span the University as it seeks to find alternatives to “current and narrow models of land-use options and practices”.