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Greater commitment needed to protecting Mackenzie Basin

Embargoed until 2.00pm Sunday 12 May 2013

Greater Government commitment needed to protecting Mackenzie Basin

The Government needs to protect the outstanding landscape and biodiversity values of the Mackenzie Basin by prioritising a new conservation or national park and promoting sustainable management on pastoral leases, the Green Party said today.

The Mackenzie Agreement was signed by 22 parties with the exception of some large irrigators, and was released in Twizel today.

The Agreement focuses on the future of 268,852 ha. of lower lying land around Lakes Tekapo, Pukaki and Ohau on the floor of the Mackenzie basin.

“The Agreement identifies 162,000 ha. of the Mackenzie as having landscape and biodiversity values deserving protection yet proposes that only 12,733 ha. of this become conservation land through tenure review. That leaves the future of much of the remainder uncertain,” Green Party conservation spokesperson, Eugenie Sage said.

“The proposal to create a new private trust potentially makes land management more rather than less complex.

“The trust appears to rely for its funding on central Government, donations and sponsorship.

“That and existing weak RMA district and regional plans means there is no certainty that the Mackenzie’s distinctive landscape and biodiversity values will be protected..

“The major restructuring of the Department of Conservation (DoC) is supposedly about promoting a “partnership” approach. The agreement proposes a new trust to do outreach work which could be done by DoC.

“It is disappointing that the Agreement does not envisage a greater role for Crown agencies, particularly DoC and LINZ given their roles and expertise in land management, wilding and other pest and weed control. Nor does it recognise the need for effective RMA policies and rules in district and regional plans.

“The signatories should be congratulated for trying a collaborative process and finding common ground in why the Mackenzie country matters.

“The proposal to irrigate another 25,815 ha of the basin floor would have severe impacts on water quality.

“Intensive dairying should have no future in the Mackenzie basin if there is a serious commitment to protecting water quality and avoiding further loss of iconic Mackenzie landscapes by converting tawny tussock grasslands to green grass,” Ms Sage said.

ends

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