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Hokitika walkway decision welcomed


Hokitika walkway decision welcomed

Forest & Bird has welcomed the Department of Conservation’s decision to decline consent for a treetops walkway, cafe and souvenir shop in the Hokitika Gorge Scenic Reserve.

“This decision is a welcome precedent which protects a special natural area from overly intrusive tourism development,” Forest & Bird South Island Field Co-ordinator Eugenie Sage says.

“The Hokitika Gorge is highly scenic and accessible rock gorge and a stunning natural feature in its own right. It does not need this walkway to attract visitors, and is completely the wrong place for an intrusive treetops walkway, café and shop.”

“The 347 public submissions opposing the development showed the gorge’s sculpted, water-smoothed rocks, azure waters, peace and tranquility were highly valued by Hokitika residents and visitors”, Eugenie Sage says.

The Department’s decision is consistent with the Reserves Act 1977 and the purpose of scenic reserves: to protect areas of scenic interest and beauty, she says.

The development would have compromised the remote and wild character of the site, Eugenie Sage says.


Notes
325 (93%) of the 347 submissions opposed the proposal.

The walkway, carpark, café and souvenir shop would have caused the following impacts;

 The removal of 500 square metres of mixed kamahi forest for the café and souvenir shop.
 The removal of 2,250 square metres of secondary growth mixed kamahi forest for carparks.
 The felling of rimu and other trees in the reserve for concrete foundations and the metal airwalk towers.
 Potential introduction of weeds from road, carpark, visitor centre and airwalk construction.
 Sedimentation of waterways from construction activities.

Section 19 of the Reserves Act 1977 establishes the purpose of scenic reserves as:
“protecting and preserving in perpetuity for their intrinsic worth and for the benefit, enjoyment and use of the public, suitable areas possessing such qualities of scenic interest, beauty or natural features or landscape that their protection and preservation are desirable in the public interest.”

A copy of the DoC report has been posted on the DOC website at: http://www.doc.govt.nz/Whats-New/001~New-on-the-Site.asp

Ends

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