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New Water Programme of Action a step forward

10 April 2006 - Wellington

Media release for immediate use

New Water Programme of Action a step forward

Forest & Bird today described the Government’s new Sustainable Water Programme of Action as a step forward which acknowledges the limited nature and threatened state of freshwater resources in New Zealand.

“Forest & Bird strongly supports the development of National Policy Statements and National Environmental Standards as part of the Government’s new Sustainable Water Programme of Action,” said Forest & Bird General Manager Mike Britton.

“The litmus test will be whether it leads to greater protection for threatened native species and restores water quality and the natural character of our degraded freshwater ecosystems,” said Mr Britton.

“If it is to be effective, the Programme will need the commitment of all Government agencies involved to achieve greater protection of rivers and lakes as natural habitats for native species.”

New Zealand is one of only three places in the world with extensive braided river systems. NZ’s braided rivers have the highest rate of endemism. For example, the Wairau River, which is threatened by TrustPower plans, has over 20 native freshwater fish species and specialised river birds including the endangered black-fronted tern.

Notes for Editors

1. New Zealand’s freshwater rivers provide habitat for five of our most threatened endemic bird species, including the endangered blue duck, and 60 species of native freshwater fish including giant kokupu.

2. The four New Zealand braided riverbed specialist bird species on the IUCN (World Conservation Union) “Red List of Species Threatened with Extinction” are wrybill, black-fronted tern, black-billed gull and black stilt.

3. According to the 3rd Annual Report on implementation of the Biodiversity Strategy (2003):
“Effort for freshwater species is not sufficient to halt the decline in species populations or ranges. At the current level of effort, and with existing knowledge, the rate of decline is likely to increase over time, with a resulting loss of species from some locations and extinctions of some species (pg 45).”

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