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Fine for mangrove removal

Fine for mangrove removal

Thursday 10 January 2008

Environment Bay of Plenty reminds people that a resource consent is needed before mangroves can be removed.

Bill Bayfield, Chief Executive, says it's important people realise a resource consent is needed from Environment Bay of Plenty before anyone can remove mangroves. Mangroves are managed under the Bay of Plenty Regional Coastal Environment Plan, which was subject to public consultation before it was approved.

"The coast is publicly owned and of national importance. In managing the coast, a public asset, it is important to recognise that anyone wishing to change the coast needs to get a mandate from the public through the Plan via a consent," said Bill Bayfield.

This reminder follows a recent case in the western Bay of Plenty where mangroves were illegally cleared to make a track through a special coastal zone near Athenree. This resulted in a resident and a contracting company being fined $12,000 and $2,000 respectively.

In sentencing the judge said that while there was a strong feeling in some sectors of the community about mangroves, the legal position in this case was clear, a resource consent should have been obtained before the path through the mangroves was made.

Bill Bayfield says he knows that some Bay of Plenty residents are concerned about the rapid spread of mangroves in our harbours and estuaries.

"The debate on whether mangroves should be managed, or not, is a contentious one. Hence the consents we grant, to our Estuary Care groups, have been subject to intense debate and scrutiny from a wide range of parties, including the Department of Conservation and Forest and Bird," says Mr Bayfield.

Currently people can only get resource consent for manually removing mangroves, although a mechanical removal trial is underway.

Mangroves help reduce coastal erosion. They have increased in Tauranga harbour because of changes to land use and the clearing of vegetation. This has led to more sediment being deposited and higher levels of nutrients. Mangroves take root in the sediment, reducing access to open water.

Ways to help reduce the spread of mangroves in Tauranga Harbour include:

* Minimising sediment runoff when carrying out earthworks

* Planting riparian areas to trap sediment and reduce nutrient runoff

* Joining an estuary care group to help restore estuaries and their catchments.

Environment Bay of Plenty staff work with community groups, known as estuary care groups, who are concerned about the increase in mangroves. The programme is supported by all Bay of Plenty coastal councils, the Department of Conservation and other agencies.

"We provide the estuary care groups with technical advice and other resources to help them form an active community group. They address environmental issues like biodiversity, riparian planting, animal and plant pest control, as well as mangrove removal," Mr Bayfield said.

"Our land management staff work with the groups to help them plan estuary restoration work. We support the groups to apply for consents if they are needed. The staff also assist the groups to understand and work within the consent conditions."

Estuary care groups are now working around Tauranga Harbour at Waikaraka estuary, Uretara estuary at Katikati, Waikareao estuary, Welcome Bay, Matua and Waimapu at Tauranga city and Tanners Point/Athenree, Te Puna and Prestidge Road, Western Bay of Plenty. A group is being formed in Omokoroa. Estuary care groups also operate at Ohiwa Harbour.

If you want to join or form a care group, contact Environment Bay of Plenty on 0800 ENV BOP (368 267).


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