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Changes sought for Abel Tasman National Park Plan

Media Release

Changes sought for Abel Tasman National Park Management Plan

16 August 2006

Management plans for Abel Tasman National Park must support and maintain recreational opportunities for all park visitors, the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) says.

TIA today presented its submission to the Abel Tasman National Park Draft Management Plan to representatives of the Nelson-Marlborough Conservation Board.

It congratulated the Department of Conservation (DOC) for its efforts to consult the tourism industry and involve it in the process of drawing up the draft management plan. But several changes were needed to maximise the industry’s efforts to help manage and control human impacts on the park, TIA said.

“The draft plan proposes allowing concession terms of only five years for businesses to operate in the park. This is not long enough to encourage operators to act responsibly and with care for the environment. At stake is the ability of tourism operators to invest in their businesses and the future of the park,” TIA Chief Executive Fiona Luhrs said.

TIA also raised concerns about the lack of controls proposed on people visiting the park independently of tourism operators.

“The plan proposes to cap commercial operations in the park at peak times. Placing limits on group numbers but not independent users is inequitable and will not solve the problem of over-crowding during the peak period,” Ms Luhrs said. “However, TIA recognises this is not a problem that is limited to Abel Tasman National Park. It is an issue that DOC has to address on all conservation lands.”

TIA called for collaborative research and monitoring to underpin all management decisions made for Abel Tasman National Park.

An example of where more monitoring was needed was DOC’s proposals to limit stays at park campsites to two nights all year round. While this might be needed to control overcrowding at peak season, TIA questioned whether such strict limits were needed at other times of the year.

Imposing limits at peak season only would help encourage use of the park during quieter periods.

DOC must also ensure that park facilities such as toilets, huts and camp grounds, had the capacity to meet expected visitor growth. If they were not, there was a risk the environment could be damaged, TIA said.

TIA’s full submission is available on its website, www.tianz.org.nz


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