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Straterra Supports Ngāi Tahu Panel On DOC Land Use

Straterra supports the Ngāi Tahu Mana Whenua Panel’s recommendation that there be no reclassification of stewardship land as national parks on Te Tai Poutini (the West Coast), says Straterra CEO Josie Vidal.

In its submission on the Western South Island stewardship land reclassification, Straterra says such reclassification could result in irreversible decisions preventing other equally important uses of Department of Conservation (DOC) land, including mining. The Government-appointed Western South Island National Panel has made recommendations for 504 parcels of West Coast stewardship land. A Ngāi Tahu-appointed Mana Whenua Panel has also made recommendations.

“The economic consequences and lost opportunities from ending access to conservation land could be considerable, with impacts hitting people locally, regionally, and nationally across access to work, and subsequently economies, as well as the Crown’s tax takes and export earnings,” Vidal says.

“The Ngāi Tahu Mana Whenua Panel has incorporated economic and social value into its decision making, for example, in its support for grazing, mining and hydroelectricity, as well as relocation of housing. We welcome this holistic approach coming from the panel as kaitiaki of the region.

“It seems remiss that economic and social value were not part of the criteria for the National Panel, in the best interests of management of public conservation land.

“This is important because reclassification may prevent other uses of the land without any positive impact on conservation. The biggest challenges to indigenous biodiversity and conservation are weeds and pests.

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“Farming, ski fields, roads and carparking occur on conservation land and have a greater impact than mining. What’s more, unlike the other land uses, mining has a finite life and mining land is returned after rehabilitation, often in a better condition than it was when mining began.

“While we fully support the Government’s conservation objectives, we believe the negative impact of mining is overstated. The truth is that mineral extraction, suitably regulated, can and should contribute to the solution.

“Demand for critical minerals is increasing globally, particularly for low-emission technologies. New Zealand has potential for some of these minerals and much of that lies in the conservation estate.

“To meet New Zealand’s imperatives and expectations around a low-emissions future, it makes sense to keep the option open for mining.

“Let’s not forget New Zealand has allowed mining on conservation land, excluding national parks and Schedule 4 land, for many decades. Only 0.04% of the conservation estate is being used for mining and quarrying.

“We question the need for the stewardship land review to achieve protection of high value conservation land because such protections already exist in the Resource Management Act and through the Environment Court.

“Yet again we are seeing the Government trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist,” Vidal says.

Straterra is the industry association representing New Zealand minerals and mining sector. You can read our submission here.

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