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Vote For The Environment Charter Launched

The most pressing environmental issues needing Government action were identified today by a national coalition of environmental and recreational groups.

The coalition launched the Vote for the Environment Charter today and urged all political parties to adopt these policies for the forthcoming general election.

ECO chairperson, Stephen Blyth, said the charter consists of policy portfolios and principles on 19 environmental and recreation topics. Singled out for special attention are 14 key commitments to which parties are urged to give particular consideration to. Mr Blyth urged voters to ask parties where they stood on these issues.

Kevin Smith, Conservation Director of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, said the key issues included strengthening New Zealand’s borders against alien pests, ensuring an end to the logging West Coast native forest, and tackling the loss of New Zealand’s rich diversity of native plants and animals.

Tricia Allen, Greenpeace Campaign Director, said the charter called for Government action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the control of toxic substances, in particular organochlorines.

Ms Allen said the charter included a 5-year moratorium on the field-testing and release of genetically modified organisms as a key action point.

Mr Blyth said the groups urged fiscal reform to shift the tax burden from GST and income tax to charges for the use of the environment and pollution.”

“A major plank in the Charter is for urgent reform of New Zealand’s marine management towards a more ecosystem focus and reversal of the current Government’s moves to give the fishing industry substantial control of fisheries management.”

Mr Blyth called such devolution of fisheries management is a high-risk strategy. “What is really required is much greater public involvement, environmental impact assessment for fishing activity, and far greater extent of marine protected areas. The charter called for 5 percent of the territorial sea and the EEZ to be protect by 2002 and 20 percent by 2010.”

Kevin Smith said all the groups opposed the amendments to the Resource Management Act currently before Parliament. “The amendments will fundamentally disadvantage communities and harm the environment and should be abandoned.”

All the groups urged the settlement of Treaty claims using productive Crown resources rather than conservation land.

David Round, President of Federated Mountain Clubs said there was a need to maintain and enhance public foot access to the public conservation estate and along the coast and waterways.

The groups involved with the Charter are the core national environmental organisations: the Environment and Conservation Organisations (ECO), Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, Greenpeace and Federated Mountain Clubs.

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