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Quarries Must Figure In Efforts To Expand Wetlands

The Government needs to include quarries as well as farmland in fresh considerations of using wetlands to absorb carbon, says the Aggregate & Quarry Association (AQA).

A Cabinet paper just released says New Zealand is relying too much on planting exotic forests to remove carbon from the atmosphere and this brings risks and costs. It recommends incentivising other options like restoring wetlands.

AQA CEO Wayne Scott says many quarries create or expand wetlands as part of their activities, helping offset the 90 % loss of New Zealand’s wetlands, mostly to farming.

"Quarries have to break ground and create holes to access the rock, sand and stone materials that we all rely on to build anything. These are often later developed into other resources like agriculture, parks or wetlands.

"For example, within a few kilometres of each other in Waikato we have two quarries which have both won awards for the wetlands they have created. (Winstone’s Baldwins Quarry at Meremere and Stevenson’s Waingaro Quarry at Ngaruawahia.)

Climate Change Minister James Shaw has responded saying at the moment only one technology - planting trees - is being used to draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

He says wetlands, mangroves and peatlands soil can also sequestrate carbon dioxide.

Last year the AQA helped get changes to the Government’s National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management which initially would have halted quarry expansions on land that used a very narrow definition of a wetland.

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Wayne Scott says if James Shaw wants to encourage further wetland development he should encourage Forest & Bird to withdraw its appeal against the revised definition.

Many farmers are now recreating wetlands, in part to help process or reduce nutrient run-off. This can reduce the amount of carbon offset.

Wayne Scott says quarries don’t have the same need to reduce nutrients so they can provide wetlands that not only manage water run-off but are even more efficient at storing carbon dioxide.

"Our sector is not looking for incentives. We just need politicians and activists to recognise what we contribute to our communities and the planet through creating and enhancing wetlands - and allow us to keep doing that."

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