Cr Mike Fin­layson Green ac­tion needed now

The Northland Age - - Opinion -

The release of the En­vi­ron­ment Aotearoa

2019 re­port was sober­ing, to say the least. The world is los­ing species at 1000 times the nat­u­ral rate, and here in New Zealand we are in the un­en­vi­able po­si­tion of leading this de­struc­tion. We have the high­est pro­por­tion of threat­ened indige­nous species — 74 per cent of ter­res­trial birds and 90 per cent of our seabirds, along with 76 per cent of fresh­wa­ter fish and 84 per cent of rep­tiles, are in se­ri­ous dan­ger.

What is even more alarm­ing is that the trend is in­creas­ing. In the 1990s around 25 per cent were threat­ened; now it’s around 75 per cent. This is not good news.

Hu­mans have had a mas­sive and on­go­ing im­pact on indige­nous bio­di­ver­sity. Na­tive for­est clear­ance and draining of wet­lands have had huge neg­a­tive im­pacts on na­tive species and wa­ter qual­ity, and this trend is on­go­ing. Only 0.4 per cent of our marine space is cov­ered by ‘no take’ marine re­serves.

Re­vers­ing these trends is a huge, but not im­pos­si­ble, task. Here in North­land we have dou­bled spend­ing on pro­tect­ing our na­tive bio­di­ver­sity. Most of this is aimed at sup­port­ing com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives to pro­tect ‘their own back yard.’ Along the Kiwi Coast (Taipa¯ down to Man­gawhai) the NRC is sup­port­ing more than 120 com­mu­nity groups to pro­tect kiwi and other na­tive species. Around 13 per cent of our op­er­at­ing bud­get is cur­rently tar­geted to pro­tect­ing our threat­ened species.

We have new ini­tia­tives un­der way to ramp up pro­tec­tion for the ma­jor­ity of our cen­tral and west­ern forests that are in dire need of pro­tec­tion. The NRC is also work­ing closely with DoC, the re­cent ini­tia­tive to rid North­land lakes of rudd and koi carp be­ing a good ex­am­ple.

Last week­end I had the op­por­tu­nity to at­tend the Moun­tains to the Sea con­fer­ence, hosted by Waimanoni Marae, at Awanui. To­gether with lo­cal iwi, con­ser­va­tion­ists from around New Zealand heard about the ef­fec­tive­ness of ri­parian plant­ing and pro­tect­ing marine habi­tats.

A field trip to Maitai Bay showed the pos­i­tive im­pact the rahui there has had on restor­ing marine life. What had been a kina bar­ren seafloor, de­void of any life bar kina, had quickly started its re­turn to a healthy marine en­vi­ron­ment. Sea­weed was grow­ing vig­or­ously, and thou­sands of baby snap­per were grow­ing in amongst it. Sus­tain­able Coast­lines led a lit­ter sur­vey show­ing that plas­tics con­tinue to pol­lute our beaches; we all re­ally need to be more care­ful with plas­tics.

The group then went on to Lake Waiporo­hita, which had been fenced off from stock and planted with na­tives to pro­tect the wa­ter qual­ity. Large num­bers of Canada geese were im­pact­ing wa­ter qual­ity, an un­for­tu­nate is­sue that needs to be re­solved quickly.

What im­pressed me most was the enthusiasm, lead­er­ship and ca­pac­ity from lo­cal peo­ple to pro­tect the places they love. But we need to mas­sively scale-up sup­port for these ef­forts. This can­not be left to the ratepay­ers. Sup­port from gov­ern­ment is vi­tal. On­go­ing jobs, boost­ing lo­cal tourism, im­prov­ing mental health and well­be­ing are just some of the pos­i­tive spin-offs.

Shane Jones, where are you?

"What im­pressed me most was the enthusiasm, lead­er­ship and ca­pac­ity from lo­cal peo­ple to pro­tect the places they love. But we need to mas­sively scale-up sup­port for these ef­forts. "

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