Funding conservation from the private sector in New Zealand.
New Zealand faces a number of immediate and long-term conservation challenges. Habitat degradation and introduced predators are the greatest contributors to the nation’s biodiversity decline. Actors from a variety of arenas (including community groups, non-government organisations, private landowners and public agencies) are working to address these problems. However, the money to properly fund conservation outcomes is consistently lacking, and public agencies are perennially underfunded. It is expected by the current government that environmental programmes will engage with the private sector to secure the additional funding required. The Department of Conservation (DOC) was extensively restructured in 2013 to facilitate engagement with the private sector. The engagement of conservation programmes with private-sector actors is not a new phenomenon, and can be traced back to the rise of neoliberal economics in the 1980s. Tourism has long been a source of revenue for protected area managers, but comes with its own set of challenges. More recently, partnerships between public agencies and private companies have resulted in the growth of conservation programmes. However, such projects are not without controversy, and sometimes come at the expense of genuine conservation gains. With a growing emphasis being placed on tourism and conservation partnerships by the New Zealand central government, this thesis aims to provide a critical examination on the funding of conservation by the private sector. Can halting New Zealand’s biodiversity loss truly be achieved using money raised from tourism, or from engagement with the private sector? Chapter 1 seeks to review the concept of neoliberal conservation in a theoretical, global context. Chapter 2 examines the roles of tourism and partnerships in funding conservation outcomes locally, with an emphasis on the tradeoffs that must be made for these engagements to occur. Unsurprisingly, not all partners appreciate the scientific realities of the projects they engage in. However, some of the strongest and most enduring partnerships are the result of the private actors demanding a firm scientific basis for the projects. A lack of publicly-available data makes it difficult to determine the true extent to which tourism and partnerships support conservation work in New Zealand. The final chapter of this thesis considers the interplay between conservation partnerships and the documentary "Pest Free?". This film was produced as the creative component of the thesis, and examines the scientific and social realities of pest eradication in New Zealand.
Advisor: Bishop, Phil
Degree Name: Master of Science Communication
Degree Discipline: Centre for Science Communication
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Private Sector; Partnership; Public-Private; Tourism; Conservation; Nature-based; Biodiversity loss; Sponsorship; Environment; Ecotourism; Funding; New Zealand; Department of Conservation; Restructure; Engagement; Neoliberal Conservation; Revenue
Research Type: Thesis