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Keep it simple on World Environment Day

Hon Steve Chadwick
Minister of Conservation


5 June 2008 Media Release

Keep it simple on World Environment Day

Tree planting is a simple and effective way for people throughout the country to get involved and contribute to solutions on World Environment Day, Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick said today.

Steve Chadwick was speaking at the Ahuriri Estuary near Napier, where she joined conservation volunteers to plant native shrubs.

“Today is World Environment Day, and with the theme of ‘Working Towards a Low Carbon Economy’ it is a great time to get out and do something practical to reduce our carbon footprint and provide for a sustainable future,” she said.

“Today we are planting marsh ribbon wood, a seemingly insignificant plant, but one that contributes to the ongoing health of the estuary environment. In a similar way, it will be the small, collective actions of ordinary people that will have real impacts in managing climate change.

“Volunteers play a vital role in conservation projects across the country. There are approximately 3,000 community groups involved in restoration projects throughout New Zealand, and nearly 8,000 individual volunteers participate in Department of Conservation (DOC) volunteer programmes. Today, on World Environment Day, I would like to congratulate and thank volunteers for their huge conservation efforts.

“I have just returned from an international biodiversity meeting, and one of the messages that resonated with me came from the parallel youth forum. They reminded us that protecting the earth, and it’s biological diversity, is a matter of personal choice – the actions we each choose make a difference.

“Today I will be talking with young conservationists in Hawkes Bay, and I am really looking forward to hearing their ideas about how they are encouraging others to get involved in conservation projects.

“World Environment Day is a wonderful opportunity for us to recognise the positive things we are already doing to promote sustainability. It is also an important opportunity for us all to consider what more we can do to take better care of our precious natural heritage.

“The Ahuriri volunteers’ work in protecting the estuary shows just the kind of commitment needed if the theme of World Environment Day 2008 is to be more than just a slogan.”

Background information on Ahuriri Estuary attached

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Background information:

Ahuriri Estuary provides an example of the inextricable links between environmental and human health. The wetland is a small remnant of a vast area that was known as Te Whanganui A Orotu and was a highly valued food source for early Maori. The size of the wetland was considerably reduced when the 1931 Napier earthquake lifted the lagoon. Reclamation and drainage reduced the area of the lagoon still further.

In 1980 the Ahuriri Protection Society was formed by people who could see the value in protecting the lagoon and challenged the view that swamps were wasteland in need of draining to be productive. In fact, wetlands are some of the most productive areas on the planet in ways that are not immediately obvious.

Since 2004, volunteers involved in the Ahuriri Estuary Working Group have augmented the advocacy of the Society with practical volunteer work in the wetland. Weed control, rubbish removal, tree planting and other tasks undertaken on a regular basis all contribute to the health of the estuary. Ahuriri is an important wildlife habitat that contributes to marine fisheries in Hawke Bay and sustains local and migratory birdlife. It is also a popular area for recreational and educational activities, attracting local people and tourists.


ENDS

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