Take ur­gent ac­tion

Manawatu Guardian - - FRONT PAGE - By MERANIA KARAURIA

New Zealand is los­ing 200 mil­lion tonnes of soil ev­ery year and pol­lut­ing what re­mains with too much phos­pho­rous.

Fish & Game chief ex­ec­u­tive Martin Tay­lor said it was “sober­ing and a wake-up call” fol­low­ing the re­lease of Our Land Re­port 2018 that says New Zealand is dam­ag­ing and los­ing its soils.

Martin said he thought the Govern­ment was fo­cused on the re­port that showed wet­lands, forests and wa­ter­ways were com­ing un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure from un­sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.

The re­port iden­ti­fies in­ten­sive agri­cul­ture as a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to this dam­age and it re­vealed the stag­ger­ing scale of the sed­i­men­ta­tion prob­lem.

“New Zealand is a small coun­try but the re­port in­di­cates that it is re­spon­si­ble for nearly 2 per cent of the world’s sediment loss.

The re­port states that “over­all, New Zealand con­trib­utes about 1.7 per cent of global sediment loss, while mak­ing up only 0.2 per cent of the global land area”.

“The huge vol­ume of soil be­ing swept off our pad­docks and hills is a se­ri­ous prob­lem and a real threat to aquatic life,” he says.

“Soil is wash­ing into our rivers, lakes, streams and har­bours, where the sediment is smoth­er­ing life and en­cour­ag­ing the growth of toxic al­gae.

“The sediment is chok­ing fish and in­sect life in our rivers, de­stroy­ing their habi­tat and hurt­ing wa­ter qual­ity. As wor­ry­ing as the re­port is, it doesn’t re­veal the full story.

“It warns there are gaps in the avail­able data and as a re­sult, sig­nif­i­cant gaps in our knowl­edge, which means the prob­lem may be far worse than it is say­ing.

“We need to ur­gently tackle th­ese prob­lems, in­clud­ing ma­jor changes to the way we man­age and use our land to pro­tect both our en­vi­ron­ment and econ­omy.”

Martin pointed to re­gional coun­cils which were not do­ing their job prop­erly, and had al­lowed this to hap­pen.

“Crop­ping and “spray and pray” on hill coun­try would be a good place to start to ban lazy and de­struc­tive farm­ing prac­tices which ac­cel­er­ates ero­sion and dirt­ies our rivers,” Martin said. “Re­gional coun­cils are there to en­force ex­ist­ing laws and they have to lift their game.

“The cur­rent prac­tice of over­win­ter­ing stock also needs tighter con­trol. Pack­ing an­i­mals into small pad­docks to eat crops to the bare ground is pro­duc­ing ex­panses of mud which wash into streams and rivers, smoth­er­ing aquatic life with sediment.

“We have to do bet­ter, for the sake of our en­vi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic well-be­ing. Af­ter a decade of ne­glect, we need proper pro­tec­tion of our re­sources, for­est and rivers.”

Our Land Re­port 2018 was jointly pre­pared by the Min­istry for the En­vi­ron­ment and Sta­tis­tics New Zealand.

Fish & Game is a statu­tory pub­lic en­tity, es­tab­lished un­der the Con­ser­va­tion Act, to man­age, main­tain and en­hance sports fish and game­birds, and their habi­tats. It is an or­gan­i­sa­tion with spe­cific re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, in­clud­ing the con­ser­va­tion, Re­source Man­age­ment, walk­ing ac­cess, Pub­lic Fi­nance and Over­seas In­vest­ment Acts.

PHOTO: FISH&GAME

HILL coun­try sed­i­men­ta­tion.

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