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Minister must ensure threats like monorail are not repeated

Minister must ensure threats like monorail are never repeated

Independent conservation organisation Forest & Bird is welcoming Conservation Minister Nick Smith’s reported decision not to allow a 29 kilometre swathe to be cut through Southland’s Snowdon Forest for a monorail and service road.

”This is great news for this World Heritage Area, which is home to a host of endangered species including the highly threatened mohua/yellowhead and long-tailed bats,” says Forest and Bird Otago Southland Field Officer Sue Maturin.

“The monorail plans were unrealistic from the beginning, as there is no way the applicant could have restored the old growth forest, tussock grasslands or wetlands the project would have destroyed. It could also have been catastrophic for the bat population.

“Now we need the Department of Conservation to officially recognise the area’s natural values and upgrade the protective status of the Snowdon Forest, along with many other areas of publicly-owned conservation land that are still designated as stewardship lands.

This whole episode shows it is high time that DOC did the job it started years ago, and classified all stewardship land,” says Sue Maturin.

“If it had done, the monorail developer would have been saved the cost of getting his proposal this far. And it would have saved community groups likes Forest & Bird the time and expense of advocating for the protection of the Snowdon Forest.

“There’s a clear parallel to the Denniston Plateau. That is also stewardship land. If it was shifted from the stewardship holding pen and was classified as a better-protected category of conservation land, it is very unlikely that it would be under threat from an open-cast coal mine.

“It is very fortunate the Snowdon Forest is now safe from this proposal. The minister must now properly fund DOC so it can finish the job of classifying stewardship land, and save us all from many of these sorts of expensive and time-consuming fights in the future,” Sue Maturin says.


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