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Illegal mangrove removal not necessary in BoP

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Illegal mangrove removal not necessary in Bay of Plenty

For immediate release: Wednesday 12 October 2005

Environment Bay of Plenty is working very successfully with local communities to manage mangroves around Tauranga harbour. So there is no need to do the job illegally, says the regional council’s regulation and resource group manager Paul Dell.

In the past year, Environment Bay of Plenty has successfully authorised the management of mangrove populations for the Waimapu, Welcome Bay, Waikareao and Matua areas of the central Tauranga Harbour and for the Waikaraka Estuary.
The council is currently responding to two cases of unauthorised mangrove clearance in the upper Tauranga harbour. Both arose after high-profile reports of residents illegally removing mangroves from the Waikato’s Whangamata Harbour in protest at what they saw as a lack of action by local authorities.

However, the situation is very different in the Bay of Plenty, Mr Dell points out. “We take quite a different approach. We have regulations in place but we also work very closely here with local communities to manage the estuary environment,” he explains.

Over the past few decades, mangroves have thrived in the sheltered bays and estuaries of Tauranga harbour, even blocking access to the water in places. Mr Dell says the rapid population growth was probably a result of two factors, sediment inputs from development in the catchment and the changing climate.

A resource consent is required for any removal, damage, modification or destruction of indigenous vegetation, including mangroves, growing in the foreshore or seabed. The Plan also notes specific areas of mangroves which have a higher level of protection because of their habitat value.

“It is important to remember that it’s not just about mangrove removal. It’s about managing the whole estuary environment. We always need to look at the bigger picture. Mangroves are important to the estuary habitat. We must find a good balance between that and their impact on the open water space, the visual and natural character of the estuary, and amenity values.”

Mr Dell says Environment Bay of Plenty is committed to working with communities to identify and evaluate their aspirations for the harbour environment where they are appropriate and balanced. Staff can offer technical advice and support on regulations, scientific research, and management options. They can also assist residents to establish a community group to manage a local estuary.

ENDS

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