12 June 2008
Unique Forum to Focus on Rural Land Use
Key participants in the Conflict in Paradise Conference, being held in Auckland today, have agreed to establish a unique roundtable group to work to find ways of making New Zealand agriculture more sustainable.
Conference convenor Gary Taylor, from the Environmental Defence Society, says that the conference has revealed firm agreement on the need to push harder to improve the quality of land use practices in rural New Zealand.
“There’s clear recognition from all parties that we are dependent for our economic welfare on rural New Zealand,” said Mr. Taylor.
“But it’s also clear that our export sectors including farming and tourism are reliant on maintaining the integrity of New Zealand’s landscape as the foundation of our clean green brand at a time when people are becoming more discerning and aware of environmental performance.”
“The recent state of the environment report disclosed serious problems with water quality as a result of more intensive use of rural land. This intensification has fed fears amongst New Zealanders, with survey results announced by Lincoln University yesterday indicating that for the first time, the public view farming practices as a bigger threat to our water quality than sewage or storm-water run-off.”
“So we need to lift our game and focus on what sustainable land use practice really means and what combination of policy, regulation, self-management and incentives might drive the necessary improvement. This would help deliver economic benefits to farmers and rural communities,” Mr Taylor said.
“There’s an acceptance that cities have their environmental footprint also, but this conference has led to an appreciation that we need to stop taking pot-shots at each other and instead work constructively together to resolve these burning issues.”
“We are thrilled that this event has proved the catalyst for the establishment of a Sustainable Land Use Forum, with key stakeholders committed to take the learnings from the conference forward. We envisage this will mark the beginning of better understanding and relationships between our rural and urban partners,” said Mr Taylor.
Those who have agreed to take part include:-
• Environmental Defence Society
• Federated Farmers
• Lincoln University
• Auckland University
• Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
• Ministry for the Environment
• Fish & Game
• Forest & Bird
Others who will be invited to join the Forum include Local Government New Zealand, and iwi authorities.
It is expected that the Sustainable Land Use Forum will convene for the first time shortly.