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Kiwi Threatened By Solid Energy Despite Concern

Kiwi Threatened By Solid Energy Despite Nationwide Concern

Despite a survey showing nationwide concern for kiwis disappearance from the wild, kiwis remain threatened by a proposed Solid Energy coal mine on the Westcoast.

The nationwide survey released today is a major challenge to Solid Energy’s proposed opencast coal mine at Happy Valley, near Westport.

“On the one hand you have a nationwide survey saying that protecting kiwi in their natural habit should be a national priority, whilst on the other hand you have the Environmental Court granting permission to a state-owned enterprise to do the exact opposite” said Save Happy Valley Coalition spokesperson Fiona Gibson [1]

“The upper Waimangaroa Valley, of which Happy Valley forms a part, contains approximately 75 to 145 adult great spotted kiwi, with about ten kiwi living at the proposed mine site.

“Last May permission was given to Solid Energy to destroy the pristine kiwi habitat and to relocate the kiwis.

“Kiwi are highly territorial animals and relocation is a highly stressful procedure and can result in breeding failure, pair separation and even death as kiwi compete for new territory.

“The area to be mined is a mixture of forest, tussock and shrublands, and the fact that stoats don’t do well in high rainfall areas, means that the area makes a particularly good kiwi habitat, and is considered a natural refuge. [2]

“Even John McLennan, the kiwi expert hired by Solid Energy, agrees! [3]

“There are no adequate reasons to justify this coal mine when clean and renewable energy alternatives exist.

“By stopping the Cypress coal mine we can save Happy Valley, ensure that the protection of kiwi is a true nationwide priority, decrease local pollution and reduce our production of greenhouse gases and the risk of climate change.

“The survey clearly shows that people want kiwi to survive in the wild, and Solid Energy should not be allowed to threaten this survival” she concluded.

Fiona Gibson is available for interview on: 027 467 8288 (Christchurch)

[1] 87% of respondents to the Bank of New Zealand survey believe that saving the kiwi is of such importance it should be addressed as a national priority. 89 percent of survey respondents are particularly concerned about kiwi disappearing from the wild, only to be found in zoos, sanctuaries and offshore islands.

[2] Great spotted kiwi are expected to maintain numbers in high rainfall mountainous areas but decline elsewhere. Based on this prediction no great spotted kiwi sanctuary has been established. Fragmentation and modification of these mountainous refuges will reduce the chance of kiwi persistence in their natural habitat.

[3] "The populations in natural refuges are expected to persist for longest, and to progressively increase in conservation status as those in other areas disappear. Such populations are therefore worthy of special protection, and every effort should be made to prevent avoidable losses, irrespective of the number of individuals involved." – John McLennan, Solid Energy kiwi expert.

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