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Losing our outstanding landscapes

Losing our outstanding landscapes: Environmental Defence Society welcomes report

The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) has welcomed the release of a special report into coastal subdivision by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. The report entitled Superb or Suburb? International case studies in management of icon landscapes looks at three areas overseas and draws some important lessons for New Zealand.

"We believe that New Zealand is losing its outstanding landscapes at a staggering rate," says EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.

"Coastal development on the Coromandel, in Northland and other places is burgeoning out of control and outstanding landscapes in inland places like the Queentown area are disappearing fast as well.

"The problem is that the Resource Management Act, which works reasonably well for most places, isn't up to the task of protecting the most beautiful parts of our countryside because the pressures are just too great to resist. Development and subdivision are occurring everywhere without regard to the environmental effects of such development. We are losing our wild places and the built environment is taking over everywhere.

"The Parliamentary Commissioner's report looks at how other places have dealt with this problem. The fact is that most other developed countries in the OECD have special legislative measures in place to protect their iconic landscapes. We should too.

"EDS is keenly interested in promoting the landscape issue up the priority list for attention by our leaders. We are jointly hosting a major conference in Auckland in July called Reclaiming our Heritage: the New Zealand Landscape Conference and will be exploring the Parliamentary Commissioner's ideas further. This conference is being jointly hosted by EDS and the NZ Institute of Landscape Architects, which shares our concerns.

"The Commissioner's report is a timely and substantive contribution to the debate about what makes our country special, about what gives us our unique cultural identity, and about how we need to take urgent steps to better protect our outstanding landscapes," Mr Taylor concluded.

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