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National Park Strategy On Hold As Sage Makes Her Stamp

The NZ Conservation Authority has put its proposed review of the general policy for National Parks on hold “to focus on providing support and advice on the conservation priorities of the new Government”.

The general policy drives planning for what activities can occur in national parks. The current policy was issued in April 2005.

The decision to put a hold on the review comes as the Government looks to implement a ban on new mining activity on the Conservation Estate There is also the ongoing work looking at vast parts of the wider estate classed as stewardship land and how it could be better protected or used for other purposes. Underlying this is the need to find land to meet the Government’s ambitious “one billion” tree planting programme.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has also been quietly putting her signature on conservation policy. Late last year DoC declined an application from Strategic Minerals for a Minimum Impact Activity under the Crown Minerals Act. The application was over an area known as Te Tai Tapu in North West Nelson Forest Park, Golden Bay. Strategic Minerals already held an Exploration Permit granted by the Minister of Energy and Resources.

This application was declined due to the significant impacts on iwi cultural values in Te Tai Tapu. It is the first time a Minimum Impact Activity application has been declined due to high cultural value. Minimum Impact Activities are considered under the Crown Minerals Act and are defined as non-invasive activities that have minimal impacts on conservation values.

On the current decision to freeze the National Park policy review Authority Chair Warren Parker said “Our national parks are facing pressures arising from tourism growth, and the impacts of climate change on both biodiversity and infrastructure. There is also the environment around the new Crown/Iwi portfolio and how this connects to conservation…We have decided as an Authority that it’s important for us to focus on how we can work with the Minister to address these issues together. We also want to support the Minister in her priorities for the coming year, including addressing the decline in biodiversity, developing the national visitor strategy, and expediting conservation management strategies and plans currently in preparation.”

Article originally published in the NZ Energy and Environment Business Alert on March 14.

Energy and Environment is a weekly newsletter for the environmental and energy sectors covering politics, parliament, policy and industry news. All inquiries to energyandenvironmentnz@gmail.com.

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