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Forest and Bird welcomes PCE report on farming

4 November 2004 - Wellington

Forest and Bird welcomes PCE report on farming

Forest and Bird says it would be great if farmers would stop opposing measures to protect the environment in the light of the new report calling for a fundamental redesign of farming practices.

Forest and Bird today welcomed the report by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Morgan Williams which warned that unless farming changes, the environmental impact of farming will antagonise other New Zealanders and undermine New Zealand's access to overseas markets.

"People are already antagonised. Earlier this year we had a report from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Sciences (NIWA) that showed most lowland streams and rivers are too polluted to safely swim in.

People are also angry about over-abstraction of important South Island east coast rivers. It's time for some change," said Forest and Bird's Conservation Manager Kevin Hackwell.

"This report is very well timed. We hope that the agricultural sector, along with local and central government acts on it. We are willing to play our part," he said.

"New Zealand trades on our clean green reputation, but away from public conservation land, there's actually very little to back this reputation up." Mr Hackwell said, "The Commissioner is right to warn that New Zealand will lose access to markets unless we clean up our act. It is time to turn the myth of clean green New Zealand into reality."

The farming industry puts a lot of effort into opposing environmental safeguards in District and Regional plans under the Resource Management Act. Forest and Bird hopes that this report will lead to a significant change in farmers' attitudes and actions.

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"It is sad that the Government's RMA review did not focus on addressing the huge gap between our clean green reputation and the reality of disappearing species and polluted air and rivers. Instead many of the proposed changes to the Resource Management Act will make life more difficult for the people and organisations who work hardest to give our clean green reputation some substance," he said.

"We hope the Parliamentary Commissioners report will be a wake-up call for those in the farming sector and in government who have the power to make the changes needed.


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