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Action needed to secure future of migratory birds

17 October 1999


Action needed to secure future of migratory birds

Contact: Kevin Smith phone 04 385-7374 work or 04 934-2473 home

An action plan to secure the future of New Zealand's migratory seabirds was presented to the Welcome Back the Birds gathering at Miranda near Thames on Sunday.

Speaking at the Miranda Naturalists Trust gathering, attended by over 150 people, the Conservation Director of the Forest and Bird Protection Society, Kevin Smith, described the annual migration of over 150,000 wading birds from Siberia to Alaska as one of the world's great wildlife events.

But he warned that though the godwits, knots, curlews and other waders had survived the rigors of the 20th century this did not guarantee their survival in the 21st century.

"Intensive development along many New Zealand coastlines is leaving coastal birds with fewer of the quiet estuaries and coastal areas essential for their survival."

Mr Smith said coastal subdivisions, marinas, marine farming and sheer people pressure were reducing the areas of optimal seabird habitat.

Key proposals in Forest and Bird's migratory wader action plan included legal protection for the major estuaries as marine reserves, marine parks or taiapure, and major amendments to the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Bill to give priority to habitat and wildlife protection.

Mr Smith said the Ministry for the Environment and the Department of Conservation needed to be resourced and directed to play more pro-active roles in Resource Management Act processes to defend New Zealand's coastlines from harmful development.

"Pressure from some politicians for DoC to be restricted or prevented from undertaking conservation advocacy outside existing parks and reserves would leave them unable to defend the migratory waders. Most of these birds spend virtually their whole time in New Zealand each year outside established reserves."

"The threats to estuaries include poor management of adjacent catchment areas resulting in pollution and excessive sedimentation."

Forest and Bird believed New Zealand also needed to take a leading role in persuading Japan, Korea and China to protect their coastal wetlands as these were vital feeding areas on the waders' Asian-Pacific flyway.

........ ends

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