Why the surprise that opinion is divided on government plans to mine small, low value parts of the conservation estate?
Opposition has been strong of voice but high volume isn’t always a reliable indicator of the numbers who share a view.
If there were plans to touch areas of high conservation value I’d be joining those opposed. But providing it’s only a few, small areas of low value land that would be mined, the benefits will outweigh the costs.
It may not be pretty while it’s happening, although that doesn’t mean it won’t be interesting. In Kalgoorlie, mine visits are a tourist attraction and while I’m not keen on enclosed, underground spaces I found it fascinating.
Consent conditions will also require the companies granted licences to ensure that they leave the land in a better state than they found it.
That’s what’s happening around Macraes in East Otago and there are other examples where people have created beauty after minerals have been extracted.
We visited two former quarries while on a farm tour of the North Island last month.
Waitakaruru Arboretum and Sculpture Park near Hamilton has become a 42 hectare place of beauty.
Wrights Water Garden, south of Auckland, featuring native and exotic trees, water lilies and lotus flowers.
The end result of mining tiny patches of conservation land could be economic growth with the social gains that will bring and when the mining’s finished the land could be returned to the conservation estate in a much better condition than it was.