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No to Dobson dam – NZCA

10 June 2004

No to Dobson dam – NZCA

The New Zealand Conservation Authority is opposed to any law change to enable approval of the Dobson dam proposal.

“A unique remaining stand of lowland native forest would be flooded if the dam went ahead,” Authority acting-chairperson Marian van der Goes said today. “It is of such high ecological value, and is legally recognised as such, that the Conservation Minister would be unable to approve the proposal unless a law change were made.”

“The point of the Conservation Act is to prevent irreplaceable conservation land being lost forever, because of knee-jerk reactions to perceived crises.”

The Card Creek Ecological Area was gazetted in 1983 to protect a unique valley floor stand of regenerating podocarp forest, including kahikatea, matai, rimu and totara, as well as kaikawaka (mountain cedar).

The area contains the richest known native birdlife in North Westland, on the basis of species diversity and abundance, and includes: kereru, weka, yellow-crowned kakariki (parakeet), ruru (morepork) and karearea (falcon).

“The value of the Card Creek Ecological Area is so high that it was extended twice by the Conservation Minister, in 1997 and again in 2001,” Ms van der Goes said. “This last addition was land formerly managed by Timberlands.”

“The Dobson issue is not about swapping one piece of land for another to satisfy conservation concerns. Land swaps are not applicable in the case of ecological areas. The 394 hectares of forest at stake is unique in New Zealand.”

Even if a swap were possible, Trustpower’s proposal of Mt Buckley was unacceptable because it was relatively common hill slope beech-hardwood forest, not rare valley floor podocarp and kaikawaka forest, Ms van der Goes said.

The area to be flooded is 10 per cent covered in gorse, not mostly covered in gorse as some project proponents had incorrectly claimed, Ms van der Goes said. The gorse-covered areas were the result of former logging and mining operations and were now regenerating to native forest.

“The Conservation Act was passed to ensure that the environment, which defines our national character as New Zealanders and provides us with inspiration and enjoyment, is protected for future generations – and that includes when the going gets tough.”

Background

The New Zealand Conservation Authority is made up of 13 members representing a wide range of interests, and they include business, legal, and environmental experts. The authority is appointed by the Government to provide independent advice on conservation issues to the Minister of Conservation.

ENDS

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