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A SURVEY OF THE PUBLIC’S PERCEPTIONS of New Zealand’s environment shows that we have an overly positive view of our environment, but that we are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of our primary industries on nature.
Respondents felt the most important environmental issues facing the country were water, followed by agricultural issues and climate change.
“New Zealanders love their rivers and lakes, coastlines and oceans,” says Forest & Bird spokesperson Geoff Keey. “We are becoming more aware of the pressures placed on these resources by our primary industries.”
59 percent of respondents identified farming as a major cause of damage to the environment (up from 25 percent when the survey began in 2000). 65 percent of respondents thought management of farming effluent and runoff was bad or very bad. In a similar vein, respondents felt that of all our resources, rivers and lakes were in the worst state.
There was also a growing perception that the management of our marine fisheries is worsening, with over 35 percent of respondents saying that our fisheries were poorly or very poorly managed.
The survey revealed that New Zealanders perceive that more of our seas are protected in marine reserves than is actually the case. “Many New Zealanders may be shocked to realise how little of our marine environment is protected – less than half a percent of our oceans are in marine reserves.”
The Public Perceptions of New Zealand’s Environment survey is produced by researchers at Lincoln University, and is released every three years. Forest & Bird is one of several organisations who help to fund the survey, alongside councils, NGOS, and industry groups.