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Waitakere ranges closure is a devastating blow to recreation

Waitakere ranges closure is a devastating blow to recreation

The New Zealand Recreation Association has expressed sadness at the Auckland Council decision to close the entire forested area of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park and major tracks in the Hunua Ranges.

“Environmentally and in terms of saving our beloved Kauri, it is the right decision, but there are vast consequences” said NZ Recreation Association CEO Andrew Leslie.

“This is the biggest public access issue New Zealand has ever faced and it represents a huge loss of recreational opportunities for our largest city,” he said.

The Waitakere ranges alone receive 2 million visits per year. Walking, tramping, mountain biking, trail-running and hunting are among NZs most popular forms of active recreation.

“Closing the Waitakere and Hunua ranges will effect a huge proportion of the population. Consequently, the numerous health and wellbeing benefits of all that recreation will be lost and there will be a large impact on commercial recreation providers who make their livelihood there and the outdoor education that occurs in that area,” explained Mr Leslie.

“Our attention and efforts must now turn to two matters. Firstly, a funded strategy must be developed to replace the loss of recreational opportunities with alternatives. For the sake of their health and wellbeing, Aucklanders must have adequate access to outdoor spaces. Secondly, there needs to be a whole-of-government effort to develop a method of saving the Kauri without excluding humans from Kauri forests. That will require significant investment,” he said.

“In the long term, exclusion and track closures are not the solution. We have concerns that closures will continue to be ignored or violated, which means that we could potentially fail to save the Kauri and lose this recreation opportunity. Recreation can be part of the solution as it enables people to engage with and enjoy nature. By educating participants and preserving opportunities to recreate we can ensure that people feel a personal responsibility for our environment,” he concluded.

ends

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