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Kiwi deaths spark protection plan

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 1/12/2016

© John Stone/AP Images As many as 20 kiwi birds a week are dying as the New Zealand national icon's population continues to decline.

There are 68,000 of the flightless birds left in the country, just three per cent of the population before humans arrived.

A protection programme as part of the government's latest biodiversity action plan hopes to turn that decline around and build numbers to 100,000 by 2030.

The goal is to increase the numbers of each of the five species of kiwis by at least two per cent per year and maintain genetic diversity, the plan released on Thursday says.

Current captive management will make way for management programmes in the wild, especially on the South Island where numbers are facing the greatest decline.

The report sets out 18 national targets for improvements in biodiversity, broken into five goals including reducing pressure on biodiversity, promoting sustainable use, and introducing safeguards for ecosystems, species and genetic diversity.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry will travel to Mexico on Thursday to present the plan at an international biological diversity convention.

She says New Zealand's long history of geographical isolation makes the nation a biodiversity hotspot, but evolution has made native species vulnerable.

"Halting biodiversity decline is a massive challenge and we need to join forces with others because it is the only way we can achieve our ambitious goals," she said.

The plan includes collaboration between the Department of Conservation, other government agencies, communities, landowners, iwi, philanthropists and businesses.

The plan also includes the existing Predator Free 2050, War on Weeds and Battle for our Birds programmes.

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