9 Dec 2011

Top scientist supports sanctuary proposal

11:15 am on 9 December 2011

One of the country's top scientists has thrown his support behind a proposal for 12 new small conservation parks, saying they are essential to stop native wildlife becoming extinct.

However, a Wellington City Councillor has urged caution, saying the cost could spiral out of control.

The founder of the Zealandia wildlife preserve in Wellington, Jim Lynch, is proposing 12 similar predator free zones, of 1000 hectares each, be spread across the mainland.

Sir Paul Callaghan told Nine to Noon current conservation efforts are failing and small parks like Zealandia are a better way to ensure the country's natural heritage survives.

"We've shown with the Zealandia model how effective it is to have a fenced enclosure where you've got a surrounding area of bush that's been managed and had the pests reduced," he says.

However, Wellington City Councillor John Morrison, says Zealandia can't keep up with its costs and keeps asking the council for more money.

He told Nine to Noon any expansion of the idea needs a solid, long term financial plan.

Mr Lynch says the new parks wouldn't be organised the same way and would only cost a tiny fraction of the national conservation budget.