NZ predator free by 2050

July 26, 2016

Prime Minister John Key has announced the government’s goal of New Zealand being predator free by 2050.

“While once the greatest threat to our native wildlife was poaching and deforestation it is now introduced predators,” Mr Key says.

“Rats, possums and stoats kill 25 million of our native birds every year, and prey on other native species such as lizards and, along with the rest of our environment, we must do more to protect them.”

Mr Key says these introduced pests also threaten our economy and primary sector, with their total economic cost estimated at around $3.3 billion a year.

“That’s why we have adopted this goal. Our ambition is that by 2050 every single part of New Zealand will be completely free of rats, stoats and possums.

“This is the most ambitious conservation project attempted anywhere in the world, but we believe if we all work together as a country we can achieve it.”

The Government will lead the effort, by investing an initial $28 million in a new joint venture company called Predator Free New Zealand Limited to drive the programme alongside the private sector.

This funding is on top of the $60 to $80 million already invested in pest control by the government every year and the millions more contributed by local government and the private sector.

Predator Free New Zealand Limited will be responsible for identifying large, high value predator control projects and attracting co-investors to boost their scale and success.

The Government will look to provide funding on a one for two basis – that is for every $2 that local councils and the private sector put in, the Government will contribute another dollar.

“This ambitious project is the latest step in the National-led Government’s commitment to protecting our environment.

“We are committed to its sustainable management and our track record speaks for itself.

“This includes the decision to establish the world’s largest fully protected ocean sanctuary in the Kermadecs, better protection in our territorial sea and our efforts to improve the quality of our fresh waterways.

“We know the goal we have announced today is ambitious but we are ambitious for New Zealand.

“And we know we can do it because we have shown time and again what can be achieved when New Zealanders come together with the ambition, willpower and wherewithal to make things happen.”

This is a BHAG – a Big Hairy Audacious Goal and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry is right when she says it will take a team effort to achieve it.

“New Zealand’s unique native creatures and plants are central to our national identity. They evolved for millions of years in a world without mammals and as a result are extremely vulnerable to introduced predators, which kill around 25 million native birds every year,” Ms Barry says. 

“Now is the time for a concerted long-term nationwide effort to rid ourselves of the introduced rats, stoats and possums that have placed so much of our natural heritage in jeopardy.”

Under the strategy the new government company, Predator Free New Zealand Limited, will sponsor community partnerships and pest eradication efforts around the country.

“By bringing together central and local government, iwi, philanthropists, and community groups, we know that we can tackle large-scale predator free projects in regions around New Zealand,” Ms Barry says.

“Project Taranaki Mounga and Cape to City in Hawke’s Bay are great examples of what’s possible when people join forces to work towards a goal not achievable by any individual alone.”

The Predator Free 2050 Project will combine the resources of lead government agencies the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries to work in partnership with local communities.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the goal of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 will have major positive impacts for farmers and the wider primary sector.

“Possums and ferrets are the main carriers of bovine TB, which is a very destructive disease for cattle and deer. In this year’s Budget the Government committed $100 million towards combined eradication efforts with industry starting with cattle and deer by 2026,” Mr Guy says. 

“By pooling our resources and working together we can jointly achieve our goals of both eradicating bovine TB, and achieving a predator free New Zealand.”

Not all the technology to make New Zealand predator free yet exists, and the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge will have an important role in developing the science to achieve the predator free goal.

“New Zealand is a world leader in conservation technology and research,” Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says. “The Biological Heritage Challenge has an established network of scientists who are ready and willing to take on the Predator Free Challenge. For the first time technology is starting to make feasible what previously seemed like an unattainable dream.”

Predator Free New Zealand Limited will have a board of directors made up of government, private sector, and scientific players. The board’s job will be to work on each regional project with iwi and community conservation groups and attract $2 of private sector and local government funding for every $1 of government funding. 

Four goals for 2025 have been set for the project:

  • An additional 1 million hectares of land where pests have been suppressed or removed through Predator Free New Zealand partnerships
  • Development of a scientific breakthrough capable of removing at least one small mammalian predator from New Zealand entirely
  • Demonstrate areas of more than 20,000 hectares can be predator free without the use of fences
  • Complete removal of all introduced predators from offshore island nature reserves

“These are ambitious targets in themselves, but ones that we are capable of reaching if we work together,” Ms Barry says. 

“New Zealanders have rightly taken great pride in our conservation efforts to date. If we harness the strength of everyone who is keen to be involved in this project, I believe we will achieve the vision of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 and make our landscape a safe haven again for our native taonga species.”

 

Predator free in 34 years is a BHAG but Forest and Bird says it’s possible:

“A country free of predators would allow forests, towns and cities to fill with native bird life such as kiwi, kākāriki (parakeets), pīwakawaka (fantails), tīeke (saddleback), kōkako, and kākā. Other species like tuatara, hihi (stichbirds), toutouwai (robins), insects, and native snails would repopulate forests and other wild places,” says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“The objective of a predator free country is one that many environmental groups, large and small, have been tirelessly working towards for a long time. However, Forest & Bird intends to look very closely at the detail of how the Government is planning to roll out their vision. For example, if the proposed Predator Free NZ Ltd. company is set up to deliver this programme, what will the role of the Department of Conservation be?”

“Reversing centuries of misguided predator releases and their ongoing devastating effect on our native species and habitats will take commitment, investment, and collaboration, but is entirely achievable by 2050, with the right resources, experts, and framework in place,” says Mr Hackwell. 

“A predator free country will also be of huge value to public health and our agriculture industries which currently spend many millions every year combating waste, contamination, and disease due to pests like rats and possums.”

We spent five days sailing round the Fiordland coast last year, landing occasionally to see native bush much as it would have been when Captain Cook first saw it in 1773. He would have been greeted by bird song but the bush through which we walked was almost silent.

Human and animal predators decimated the bird population and in too many places pests are still winning the battle against the birds.

The Department of Conservation is making a concerted effort to eradicate pests and re-establish species like the kakapo.

That’s not easy on islands and it is even more difficult on the mainland with possums, stoats, ferrets and rats breeding freely and preying on eggs and young birds.

Predator-free fences around bush have been established in several places but the Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 strategy recognises a lot more needs to be done.

It also needs to be done carefully with regard to the whole food chain. Rats prey on mice which prey on birds’ eggs. Eliminating rats would not be enough if that allowed the mouse population to explode.

It will take a lot of money and a lot of work but it will be worth it if it results in burgeoning bird populations with better public and animal health as a bonus from the eradication of pests which wreak havoc on native flora and fauna, and carry diseases.


Rural round-up

October 14, 2015

Shareholders seek board changes for leaner, fitter Fonterra:

Two Fonterra shareholders and former Fonterra board members are calling on Fonterra shareholders to reduce the number of directors in a move to improve the company’s performance.

The two, Greg Gent and Colin Armer, have put forward a notice of proposal to the company’s annual meeting in late November seeking shareholder support for a reduction of board members from 13 to nine.

“We all want our cooperative to be more globally competitive and successful with a clear strategy to achieve that. Our farming businesses and livelihoods depend on that,” says Greg Gent who was formerly deputy chairman of the company. . . 

Forest & Bird congratulates New Zealand police on 1080 arrest:

Forest & Bird congratulates the New Zealand police for making an arrest as part of their investigation into a 1080 threat to infant formula late last year.

“This threat wasn’t just a challenge for our dairy industry and exports, it also had the potential to damage our ability to control introduced predators that are killing our native wildlife” explained Kevin Hackwell, Group Manager of Campaigns and Advocacy at Forest & Bird.

“We absolutely support the continued use of 1080 in New Zealand’s forests. It’s the most sensible, cost-effective way to reduce pest numbers and allow native forests and wildlife to thrive” said Mr Hackwell. . .

Alliance Group to offer farmers loyalty payments – Gerard Hutching:

Alliance Group will offer loyalty payments this season to farmer shareholders in what some observers are saying are the first shots in a procurement war.

The offer comes with the caveat that farmers have to supply 100 per cent of all their livestock or 100 per cent of one species.

The reward for farmers supplying 100 per cent of their lambs is an additional 10c per kilogram per animal.

Chief executive David Surveyor said the co-operative was forecasting $100 for an 18kg lamb for the 2015-2016 season. . . 

Farmers and growers hope to avoid another drought – Gerard Hutching:

Some South Canterbury farmers and growers are shying away from being dependent on Lake Opuha water and are putting in their own bores.

Jo and Steve Malone, who own Redwood Cherries and Berries on the Pleasant Point Highway, lost thousands of dollars during this year’s disastrous drought.

“We are going to drill for water because we don’t want to be reliant on the lake. We are waiting for the council to give us consent,” Jo Malone said.

They were not as big users of water as dairy farms. Their cherries had not received irrigated water for the last five years, but it was vital for the strawberries. . . 

Grain payments spell risky business – Alisha Fogden:

MAKING seven-day payment terms standard was a contentious topic in the managing market risk session at the recent Australian Grain Industry Conference in Melbourne.

Grain Trade Australia chief executive officer Geoff Honey, who was guest speaker, said that could potentially reduce competition.

“There are organisations that buy grain from you that sell it to an end-user that is on a 30-day end-of-week delivery,” he said.

“If it became seven-days EOW standard across everybody, you could be removing a layer of competition. . . 

A cure for vitamin B6 deficiency :

In many tropical countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, cassava is one of the most important staple foods. People eat the starchy storage roots but also the leaves as a vegetable. Both have to be cooked first to remove the toxic cyanide compounds that cassava produces.

But the roots have a disadvantage: although rich in calories, in general they contain only few vitamins. Vitamin B6 in particular is present in only small amounts, and a person for whom cassava is a staple food would have to eat about 1.3 kg of it every day for a sufficient amount of this vital vitamin.

Serious deficiency in Africa

Vitamin B6 deficiency is prevalent in several African regions where cassava is often the only staple food people’s diet. Diseases of the cardiovascular and nervous systems as well as are associated with vitamin B6 deficiency.

Plant scientists at ETH Zurich and the University of Geneva have therefore set out to find a way to increase vitamin B6 production in the roots and leaves of the cassava plant. This could prevent vitamin B6 deficiency among people who consume mostly cassava. . . 


Rural round-up

February 28, 2015

Dairy commits $5 million to ambitious zero pest plan – Suze Metherell:

New Zealand’s dairy industry has committed $5 million over two years to the fight against stoats, rats and possums, which destroy native flora and fauna, and can carry bovine tuberculosis.

The Zero Invasive Predators scheme, or ZIP, formed after a $10 million injection from philanthropic fund NEXT Foundation, and a further commitment of $5 million from the Department of Conservation. The funds will be used to develop the Wellington-based conservationist’s barrier system, which aims to prevent the reintroduction of pests in cleared zones, without using fences.

New Zealand’s major dairy companies, including Fonterra Cooperative, Westland Milk Products, Open Country, Synlait and Tatua, have contributed to the programme, which is trialing its system on the 400 hectare Bottle Rock peninsula in the Marlborough Sounds. The dairy industry wants to eradicate possums because of the TB threat to dairy herds. . .

 Dairy funding for predator control welcomed:

The announcement that the dairy industry will join an initiative to tackle the predators decimating New Zealand’s native wildlife is another positive step on the way to achieving the long term goal of a predator-free New Zealand, Forest & Bird said today.

Five major dairy companies, including Fonterra, have committed $5 million to the Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) programme, which was founded late last year by NEXT Foundation and the Department of Conservation. The partnership intends to find new ways to eradicate introduced predators such as rats, stoats and possums from large areas of land.

Forest & Bird Group Manager Campaigns and Advocacy Kevin Hackwell welcomed the dairy industry involvement in the campaign to stop the decline of our native wildlife due to invasive predators. . .

NZ business confidence gains in February as agri sector gets more upbeat – Paul McBeth:

  (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand business confidence improved in February as recent gains in dairy prices turned sentiment around in the agriculture sector, and as low interest rates stoke hiring and investment expectations.

A net 34.4 percent of firms are optimistic about the general economy, up from 30.4 in the previous survey, according to the ANZ Business Outlook. That was aided by a turnaround in agriculture to a net 15.2 percent becoming optimistic, having previously been dominated by pessimists. Firms’ own activity outlook showed a net 40.9 percent of respondents upbeat on their prospects, compared to 37.3 percent.

“General confidence, profit expectations and employment intentions in this sector (agriculture) have flipped from negative to positive,” ANZ Bank New Zealand chief economist Cameron Bagrie said in his report. “Higher dairy prices are no doubt working their magic. Such a bounce-back is particularly welcome considering challenges delivered by Mother Nature.” . .

 

Fonterra’s journey – Keith Woodford:

[This is the second of five articles on Fonterra that I have been writing for the Fairfax NZ Sunday Star Times. This one was published on 8 February 2015. The previous article was titled ‘The evolution of Fonterra’ ]

Last week I wrote about the battles that led to the formation of Fonterra in 2001. However, Fonterra’s structure and associated institutional culture have moved a long way since then.

Sufficient time has elapsed since Fonterra’s formation battles that they can now be seen in reasonable perspective. But subsequent events are still raw. In line with corporate policy, the participants have largely kept their opinions private, and the official line is a product of the public relations team. However, in a co-operative structure, it is inevitable that information does leak. One thing for sure, is that some of the internal debates have been vigorous. . .

Forest safety council underway:

The forest industry has established a safety council to make forests safer places to work. This was a key recommendation of the Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel that reviewed forest workplace safety in 2014.

The Forest Industry Safety Council will formally get underway in early April. But in the meantime a working group representing forest owners, contractors, workers, unions and the government is putting the building blocks in place. An independent chair and national safety director are being recruited.

There were 10 workplace deaths and 169 serious harm injuries in forestry in 2013. This led to the industry establishing the review panel which reported in late October 2014. . .

Sailor convicted after biosecurity ramp-up in Northland:

A sailor who appeared in the Kaikohe District Court last week (17 February) has become the first person convicted for deliberately concealing biosecurity goods on a visiting yacht.

The conviction follows increased biosecurity scrutiny of arriving yachts by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) at Northland this yacht arrival season.

Sylvie Berthe Barre, 61, a retired French national, had earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of knowingly possessing unauthorised goods, and misleading an official. She was fined $3000.

She is currently staying in New Zealand on a three-month visiting visa. . .

2015 Northland Field Days Could Be Biggest Ever:

The 2015 Northland Field Days is shaping up to be the biggest ever according to organisers with more exhibitors, more competitions and better facilities than ever before.

From February 26 to February 28 people from Northland and beyond will flood into Dargaville for the Northland Field Days with high expectations

With over 450 companies exhibiting at the event this year Northland Field Days president Lew Duggan says interest has never been higher with exhibitors taking the extra effort to make site displays more dynamic and exciting than ever.

Those interested in getting a glimpse into Northland’s history will be getting a special treat this year say organisers but not one but two heritage organisations having displays at the event. . .

 Mammoth donkey heads for record books – David Farrier:

Jenny Clausen is famous in Taupiri for a very specific love – donkeys.

The locals call her the “donkey lady” thanks to the 30 or so donkeys she keeps at her and her husband’s dairy farm.

But Ms Clausen may also soon be in The Guinness Book of World Records for one of her donkeys.

Nutmeg is a mammoth donkey born and bred in New Zealand, and she’s bigger than your normal mammoth. . .

New Zealand and Australia Tie in the Trans-Tasman Wine Challenge:

New Zealand Winegrowers injected some old fashioned rivalry in ‘The Great Trans-Tasman Wine Challenge’ on Thursday evening in Auckland ahead of the New Zealand and Australia Cricket World Cup game at the weekend. The two nations channelled their trans-Tasman rivalry as they met head-to-head in a blind wine tasting.

After some rigorous judging lead by Bob Campbell MW and Nick Stock, the ‘dream team’ of top 12 wines turned out to be a perfect split from Australia and New Zealand with each nation claiming six places each. Australian wine, Campbells Merchant Prince Rare Rutherglen Muscat NV, was crowned “player of the match”. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 12, 2015

Time for tough calls – Annette Scott:

South Canterbury farmers expect their region to be declared a drought zone before the end of the month, unless rain falls.

Dairy farmer Brent Isbister predicts milk production on his farm will be back at least 15% for the season going on the way his business is tracking with the emerging drought.

Before December his 1150-cow herd was producing 3% ahead of last year but with water restrictions since mid-December, milk flow was now 20% down. . .

Stock cut back as drought looms – Tim Cronshaw:

North Canterbury farmers in dry hotspots are two to three weeks away from a drought.

Farmers are calling the dry run typical for North Canterbury after easier summers lately and a return to the summers of their youth.

They are feeding stock extra supplies and have de-stocked ewes from properties and sold lambs to the store market which they might normally finish themselves to get better prices.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury president Lynda Murchison said farmers around their sheep and beef property in Weka Pass were dry and would go into drought without rain in the next few weeks. . .

Milk collection up; dry fears – Dene Mackenzie:

Fonterra’s New Zealand collection is 4% higher for the season to date but the dairy co-operative issued a warning about the effect dry conditions were having on the east coast of the South Island.

Farmers would be watching closely as irrigation restrictions might be put in place.

Fonterra released statistics for the seven months to December and said the collection rate was 3% higher in December than in the previous corresponding period, as well as being 4% higher for the seven months. . .

Meat goes same way as oil – Dene Mackenzie:

The ASB Commodity Price Index started the year with a fall in all denominations, mainly due to the dipping sheep/beef index.

The 2.7% fall in US dollar terms in the sheep/beef index was largely shared by beef (price down 3.4%) and lamb (down 2.7%).

Dairy prices were flat before the 3.6% overall rise in the GlobalDairyTrade auction. ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said the year started with commodity markets very much in the headlines. . .

Clearing pests would bring range of benefits:

Forest and Bird says clearing pests from New Zealand would have significant economic benefits for the country’s primary production and public health.

The Predator Free New Zealand Trust aims to clear New Zealand of rats, stoats and possums in just a few decades by concentrating research on new removal techniques such as introducing infertile males.

Forest and Bird spokesperson Kevin Hackwell said vertebrate pests cost the primary production sector about $3 billion a year. . .

* * * * *

Farmers take great pride and great care for their animals. The animals come first, before the farmer and their families. No matter what the weather, the farmer is out there taking care of their livestock. Farmers work 365 days a year. No snow days. No holidays.</p> <p>#Farm365 #agproud #agmorethanever #thankafarmer #FarmVoices


Battle for birds

January 30, 2014

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith has launched DOC’s largest-ever species protection programme called ‘Battle for Our Birds’.

“Our native birds are in decline and the kiwi will not exist in the wild for our grandchildren unless we do more to protect them. Rats, stoats and possums must be controlled to stop them killing 25 million native birds a year. It is like having a Rena disaster, which killed 2000 birds, every hour,” Dr Smith says.

“This problem is particularly urgent this year because we are facing a one in 10 to 15 year large beech mast that will drop about a million tonnes of seed in autumn. This flood of food will trigger a plague of an additional 30 million rats and tens of thousands of stoats. When the seeds germinate in spring, these starved predators will annihilate populations of our endangered birds.

“This ‘Battle for Our Birds’ programme increases pest control in 35 forests to protect 12 native species, and mainly involves using 1080. An additional 500,000 hectares will be treated in this mast year, increasing the proportion of public conservation land protected from these pests from five per cent to 12 per cent. It also involves expanding DOC’s on-going pest control work by 50,000 hectares each year over the next five years.”

The twelve target species are the great spotted, brown and tokoeka kiwi, kaka, kea, whio (blue duck), mohua (yellowhead), kakaraki (orange-fronted parakeet), rock wren, long and short tailed bats, and giant snails. It will save millions of other native birds like fantails, robins, tui, kereru, riflemen, bellbirds, tomtits and warbles, reptiles like geckos, insects like weta, trees like rata, and plants like mistletoe.

The bulk of the 35 forests where the protection work will occur this year is in South Island beech forests in the Kahurangi, Abel Tasman, Arthur’s Pass, Westland, Mt Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks. The other reserves in the South Island are the Catlins and Waikaia in Otago, Mt Dobson and Upper Hurunui in Canterbury, Haast, Maruia and Mokihinui on the West Coast, and Pelorus and Isolated Hill in Marlborough. The five forests in the North Island to receive protection this year are Pouiatoa in Taranaki, the Whanganui and Tongariro National Parks, and at Pirongia and Awaroa in western Waikato.

“The details of the exact areas, timing and mix of pest control tools will be finalised over coming months. We need to monitor the mast seed drop and the resulting pest plague, and engage with affected communities.

“This pest control programme does involve the use of aerial 1080, but does not mean record use. Pre-feeding, improving bait quality to avoid crumbs attractive to birds, helicopter rather than fixed-wing aircraft distribution, GPS, and the development of repellents for non-target species have enabled major improvements in 1080 control methods. Bait application rates have reduced from 30 kilograms to one kilogram per hectare.

“I know there are people, regardless of the science, who will oppose the use of poisons. The comprehensive conclusions of the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and the Environment Protection Authority make plain that 1080 is safe and the only practical tool that will work. Reason must trump prejudice about poisons when the very species that define our country like kiwi are at stake.”

This programme will cost about $21 million over the next five years out of DOC’s $335 million annual budget and is possible because of savings from last year’s restructuring, partnership funding, efficiency gains from improved pest control technologies, and economies of scale in this large project

“The ‘Battle for Our Birds’ is New Zealand’s largest ever species protection programme. It’s about backing our kiwi, kaka and kea over rats, stoats and possums,” Dr Smith concluded.

The plan has the backing of parliament’s environment watchdog:

. . . Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright warned of the “pest explosion” in December and she’s welcoming Dr Smith’s move.

“The potential toll on our native wildlife is enormous,” she said.

“I’m delighted with Dr Smith’s considered response to this very major threat to New Zealand’s native flora and fauna.”

Dr Wright says 1080 is the only tool to control the plagues of rats and stoats that follow a mast event.

Forest and Bird says the 1080 plan should be standard:

“Conservation group Forest and Bird says increased pest poisoning in response to an expected boom in rat and stoat numbers should be the new baseline. . .

“Without this increase in predator control, there will be a real possibility that we will lose a bird species this mast year,” said F&B advocacy manager Kevin Hackwell.

“DOC should be funded properly for dealing with this event. But, if this level of predator control is not maintained, the money could easily be wasted. For this reason the programme over the next five years should become the new standard for DOC’s aerial 1080 operations.” . . .

Native flora and fauna are under threat from imported pests in the best of years.In mast years the increased danger calls for an extraordinary response and the planned 1080 blitz  is necessary.

Beech mast 2014 logo.

There is more on the plan at DOC’s website.


Proposals for freshwater management

November 8, 2013

Environment Minister Amy Adams and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have released proposals for improving freshwater management, including national water standards.

On-going and reliable supply of healthy water is one of the most important environmental and economic issues facing New Zealand today,” Ms Adams says.

“It is critical that we protect and improve the water quality that we all care so much about.”

“This is an issue that affects us all. We need to work together to create a better way of managing what is New Zealand’s most important natural resource,” Mr Guy says.

In 2011, the Government required regions to maintain or improve the water quality in their lakes, rivers, wetlands and aquifers.

In March a document was released outlining the Government’s proposed plan of action for improving water quality and the way freshwater is managed.

In August, the Government announced its intention to create a collaborative planning option for the development of a freshwater plan within a community.

Today, the Government is releasing a document to seek the public’s feedback on more detailed proposals for amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

The discussion document seeks feedback on the Government’s proposals for:

  • a national framework to support communities setting freshwater objectives
  • explicit recognition of tangata whenua values for freshwater
  • ecosystem and human health as compulsory values in regional plans
  • bottom lines for ecosystem and human health that apply everywhere, and

restricted grounds for exceptions to bottom lines; and

  • requiring councils to account for all water takes and contaminant discharges

More than 60 freshwater scientists from public, private and academic sectors across New Zealand have come up with numeric values proposed for national bottom lines for freshwater.

Ministers have not been involved in the scientific detail of the framework.

The numbers have also been tested with a reference group of water users to make sure they are practical. Further water quality attributes and numbers will be added over time.

The framework will be underpinned by good information that supports regional decision-making, including the environmental, social and economic impacts of any proposed objectives and limits.

“As a minimum, councils still have to maintain or improve water quality, but we are proposing a safety net in national bottom lines for ecosystem and human health,” Ms Adams says.

“These are to safeguard aquatic life in our water bodies, and ensure we can enjoy our water for activities like boating and wading.”

“We expect people to debate these bottom lines – that’s the nature of science – but the freshwater scientists’ numbers we are releasing today also reflect the important role of value judgements in choosing how we use our fresh water,” Mr Guy says.

“If we can get agreement now, there will be less arguing and litigation over regional plans and resource consent applications. It will give people more certainty about what is allowed and what is not, and all this will save time and money.”

The discussion document, the draft amended National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and supporting documents and studies are available here.

Public meetings and hui will be held around the country this month and next. Dates and venues will be posted on the Ministry for the Environment’s website.

Amy Adams’ speech is here.

Farmers are welcoming the proposals.

“What is being proposed directly comes out of the recommendations of the Land & Water Forum and represent a significant change in how communities will plan for water into the future,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson.

“This is a collaborative response to what has been a collaborative process.

“It is a framework which provides an accounting system for measuring water quantity and quality. This reduces much of the subjective emotion that has typified the discussion and sets bottom lines for water quality.

“This also is about giving communities the power to set their own aspirations for water. For the first time this will be scientifically, culturally and economically informed. It won’t be easy and will need some sacrifice from agriculture and urban communities alike.

“As Minister Adams noted at the launch, some of our most polluted waterways are in our towns and cities. It is why every New Zealander has a responsibility to play their part.

“Just like some farmers may face greater restrictions, some cities and their ratepayers may face wastewater upgrades costing hundreds of millions of dollars. The thing about the proposed amendments is that it introduces the concept of time; many issues may have taken decades to build and may take decades to resolve.

“I can confidently say New Zealand’s primary industries are up for this challenge.

“It is a challenge that rightly starts by giving communities the full facts. This is helped by input provided by 60 of New Zealand’s foremost freshwater scientists. For the first time we can build up a picture for what the impacts are and where they are coming from.

“It will also be helped by giving communities an idea as to what the costs of water options being considered are. As long as the community goes into decisions with its eyes open, as farmers, we cannot really complain.

“Many of the issues we face are long-term and the solutions will equally need an intergenerational approach. That makes it important to get the foundations right.

“While the framework is not complete and needs details to flesh it out, it and the consultation now underway, are important steps towards a more open and honest discussion about water,” Mr Mackenzie concluded.

IrrigationNZ says the integration of socio-economic and environmental objectives is the only way New Zealand will achieve long-term sustainability.

“It’s good to see the recommendations of the Land and Water Forum being put into action and IrrigationNZ applauds the scientists and planners behind the framework. It’s a sensible, well-informed first iteration and we look forward to its further development,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

Mr Curtis says communities will now be able to come together and make informed decisions around the values of local waterways. “The framework delivers a more consistent approach to the setting of freshwater objectives and limits throughout New Zealand. IrrigationNZ is particularly excited by the breadth of community values that have been captured. Long term sustainability requires the marrying of socio economic and environmental aspirations and the framework achieves that.”

Another highlight for IrrigationNZ is recognition within the framework that communities need flexibility as they work towards meeting freshwater objectives.

“This is important as there are many factors impacting on water quality and a range of management approaches that can be taken as a result. While much of New Zealand’s freshwater resource is in good shape, there are also hotspots that urgently require attention. For IrrigationNZ, our contribution is working out how we better use water for irrigation and the framework reinforces that with its focus on measurement. Irrigators understand the importance of monitoring and measurement as our industry is founded on it. Our work programme is now based on improving water use efficiency and minimising nutrient losses to groundwater and waterways which will go a long way to delivering improved freshwater outcomes.”

The one jarring note for IrrigationNZ is the continuing debate around what should be included as attributes in the national bottom lines.

“In reality it’s difficult to set national bottom lines for many attributes due to the diversity and complexity of our landscape and waterbodies. Some freshwater attributes, particularly biotic-based indicators that are derived from multiple parameters, are better set at the catchment level where scenario specific analysis can be undertaken.”

Forest and Bird says the proposals are a good first step towards cleaner rivers.

. . . “Currently, regional councils decide their own water quality values. Inevitably, these have been disputed by different sectors all the way to the Environment Court,” says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“It makes real sense to get consistency and agreement, all at once at a national level, and to have nationally consistent bottom lines.

“While the National Objectives Framework is a good start, as proposed, it would benefit from some more flesh on its bones,” Kevin Hackwell says.

“An obvious omission is that there is no objective that directly relates to the health of freshwater insects, and we hope that they can be included in the national framework that is implemented. Insects provide a direct measurement of how healthy a lake or river is,”
Kevin Hackwell says.

“Where there are still gaps in the regional science – which mean we can’t yet agree on a national set of numbers for particular water quality values – we should still be able to agree on some tight wording on what standards we want to see achieved.

“Tight ’descriptive’ objectives would provide crucial guidance for regional councils to work to, while the figures are worked out,” Kevin Hackwell says.

The Environmental Defence Society also says the proposals are a good first step.

“This is the critically important keystone to the entire freshwater reform process,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.

“When EDS initiated the Land and Water Forum process in 2008, we had no idea it would take so long to get to this important stage. We finally have a draft of the much-needed national guidance for freshwater management in New Zealand.

“The overall NOF framework appears to be consistent with the recommendations of the Land and Water Forum. That much is welcome.

“However the actual standards and bottom-lines proposed are incomplete and those that are there will need strengthening.

“In particular, we are aware the Science Panels and the Reference Group recommended that macroinvertebrates (small living critters in freshwater systems) should be included – but they haven’t been. We think this can and should be fixed in the final version.

“Overall, some of the other bottom-line standards appear weaker than expected and in many cases are considerably lower than current water quality. We will need to take scientific advice on what adjustments are required. We have to have standards that ensure that no further deterioration in freshwater quality occurs and that we are on an overall improvement pathway especially in lowland streams and rivers.

“Overall, New Zealand’s freshwater should be swimmable and fishable as a minimum.

“The government is running a series of workshops and consultation feedback has been sought with a closing date in February.

“On this occasion the government is generally on the right pathway which will be welcomed by my colleagues on the Land and Water Forum as being in accord with the consensus position we arrived at. EDS stands by that consensus,” Mr Taylor concluded.

Getting consensus on the freshwater strategy is far better than imposing something which will result in on-going wrangles and litigation.

Consensus does however, often require compromise.

All parties involved have a strong desire to ensure we have good freshwater standards that result in clean water. If they keep that in mind they ought to be able to build on what they have in common and work around their differences.

 

 

 


No substitute for 1080 in some areas

July 18, 2013

Environment commissioner Jan Wright advocated for wider use of 1080 two years ago and is disappointed there’s been so little action since then.

. . . Dr Wright says time is running out for native species on the mainland.

“There are three predators that are inflicting enormous damage on our native birds and plants – possums, rats, and stoats. The only way we can control them over large areas is to use 1080. We are lucky to have it.

“When I released my report two years ago I called for greater use of 1080 because I was extremely concerned about the future of kiwi and other native birds.

“Currently the Department of Conservation is spending more on research into 1080 and its alternatives than it is on actually using it.

“While I’m happy this research is being done, I would like to see more money being spent on frontline pest control.

“While I am heartened by the public support for a pest-free New Zealand there is no way that it could currently be achieved without 1080. I will continue to recommend its use is increased. “

Dr Wright’s report is here, her update is here.

Forest and Bird agree with her.

Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell says the PCE’s latest report reinforces Forest & Bird’s stance that 1080 remains the most cost effective way of controlling the three “key pests of possums, rats and stoats” over large areas.

“Pests are decimating our native forests and killing an estimated 25 million birds a year, pushing some of them towards extinction. We need to get on top of the pest situation if we want to reverse the decline of our native wildlife.

“We fully agree with the Commissioner in that aerial 1080 drops over large areas are the best way to do that,” he says.

“Other methods of pest control, like trapping and ground-based poison operations, are expensive, time-consuming, cover small areas, and often fail to get into the heart of the back country where it’s most needed. Aerial 1080 drops, at this stage, offer the most cost-effective way to tackle New Zealand’s pest problem,” Kevin Hackwell says.

Forest & Bird is disappointed that the Department of Conservation has not acted on the PCE’s key recommendation from the initial 2011 report to increase the use of aerial 1080 operations.

“DOC should move resources from the less effective ground-based control to the more effective use of aerial 1080. There’s no need for any more delay, we should be acting on the PCE’s recommendations now,” Kevin Hackwell says.

It is impossible to safeguard native birds when 1080 is dropped and it can kill them. But populations recover very quickly when their predators are killed.

Trapping and hunting animal pests works well in some places.

But in many areas 1080 is the best way to kill the pests which destroy native flora and pray on the fauna.

Some of these pests also carry TB which can spread to farm animals and people.


%d bloggers like this: