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BNZ Funds Destructive Dairying And Habitat Loss

BNZ Funds Destructive Dairying And Habitat Loss

The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society has challenged the Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) to stop sponsoring forest clearance, habitat destruction and water pollution through loans to West Coast dairy farming company, More Cow Ltd.

“More Cow Ltd’s contempt for the natural environment is obvious in the piles of beech logs, silt filled streams and wetland destruction close to the Lewis Pass highway at Springs Junction and the dramatically changed landscapes of the Maruia Valley,” Forest and Bird field officer, Eugenie Sage said.

“Little of this destructive dairying would be possible without loan finance from the BNZ.

“Forest and Bird is disappointed that the BNZ does not ensure that the funds which it lends promote sound environmental management, and are not used to assist substantial destruction of indigenous biodiversity,” she said.

“As part of its large scale dairy conversions on West Coast farms, More Cow Ltd has destroyed and converted beech forests, wetlands, and native shrublands into exotic pasture, and put streams into concrete culverts or clogged them with silt.

“The BNZ has vigorously promoted its concern for protecting the habitat of threatened species though its sponsorship of the Kiwi Recovery Programme with the Department of Conservation.

“The credibility of the Kiwi Recovery Programme risks being substantially undermined by the BNZ’s astonishing double standard in relation to habitat loss.”

“While one arm of the BNZ funds predator control and other efforts to save kiwi, another arm loans much larger sums to help destroy valuable lowland forest, wetlands and shrublands which are habitat for a range of native plants and wildlife.”

Ms Sage said environmentally damaging activities by More Cow Ltd have included: Unauthorised drainage and destruction of 6 ha of a 48 ha raised peat bog wetland at Black Stream near Springs Junction before being stopped by the West Coast Regional Council and proposals to drain the rest of the wetland. Wetlands are rare nationally and raised peat bogs are relatively rare. Clearance of beech forest close to the Marble Hill Scenic Reserve and other conservation land near Springs Junction. Clearance of strongly regenerating kanuka/manuka shrublands and riparian vegetation on several properties on the east bank of the Maruia valley for dairy pasture on both sides of State Highway 65. Major “re-contouring” of streams and waterways so that they become drains or concrete culverts and channels. Clearance of a significant stand of matagouri and a threatened coprosma species close to the Maruia River. This stand of old man matagouri was decades, if not centuries old. It was a distinctive landscape feature on the State Highway 65, particularly as matagouri is uncommon on the West Coast. Clearance of remnant beech forest on alluvial soils on the east bank of the Maruia Valley and around Springs Junction including on the approach to the Lewis Pass. Large piles of beech logs are obvious from State Highway 7. Removal of riparian vegetation beside spring fed streams at Springs Junction. This and subsequent stock access causes significant water pollution from increased sediment, nutrient run-off and faecal contamination. Clearance of extensive areas of terrace beech forest on the true left bank of the Inangahua River adjacent to the Rahu Scenic Reserve for firewood and dairy pasture. Poor management of its dairying operations in the upper Buller River catchment with dairy herds crossing through watercourses and stock being fed out on stand-off pads adjacent to riverbeds causing a deterioration in water and habitat quality; clearance of riparian vegetation; stock having access to rivers and streams; diversion and modification of streams without the required resource consents; and no effluent treatment systems on some dairy farms. The major pollution of waterways and poor farm operations resulted in an investigation by the Ministry for the Environment into the company’s dairy farming practices in November 2002.

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