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Forest & Bird Backs Action To Stop Coromandel Conservation Land Mining

Coromandel-based anti-mining group Ours Not Mines is in the High Court today challenging the Hauraki District Council’s decision to give OceanaGold – a large international mining company – access into nationally significant Coromandel public conservation land for only $1 per year.

Photos and videos of the Wharekirauponga area that is threatened by OceanaGold mining are available here.

“Forest & Bird is proud to stand behind Ours Not Mines and their important efforts to protect the native forests of the Coromandel Peninsula from new mines,” says Nicola Toki, Forest & Bird Chief Executive.

“International research shows that Aotearoa has the dubious honour of being home to one of the highest proportions of threatened species in the world and our wildlife and wild places have suffered devastating losses since people arrived here. More than 75 percent of indigenous reptile, bird, bat, and freshwater fish species are threatened with extinction or are at risk of becoming threatened.

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“Public conservation land is the last bastion for some of the most unique species in the world, like Archey’s Frog, which is critically endangered and one of the world’s rarest frogs.

“It’s gutting that at a time when people right around the globe have been sharing their love for Aotearoa New Zealand’s birdlife through Forest & Bird’s Bird of the Century competition, that independent, not for profit conservation groups are still having to fight to protect the very places where our threatened birds and wildlife are meant to be safe. Nine of the Bird of the Century species live in the area where the mine is proposed.

“Even before Bird of the Century, New Zealanders have sent a clear signal time and time again: public conservation land is for people and for nature, not for mining. In 2010, I marched with 40,000 kiwis down Queen Street to demand that national parks remain closed for mining. Since then, over 10,000 people have signed a petition demanding a moratorium on new mines on public conservation land, and independent polling commissioned by Forest & Bird last year showed that two-thirds of New Zealanders do not want new mines on their public conservation land.

“Our public conservation lands are a crucial natural asset in terms of biodiversity protection, resilience from floods and drought, carbon sequestration potential and of course how these areas contribute to our international brand. It makes good economic sense for us to protect that brand for our continued access to markets, and to invest in the integrity of the brand, so we’re not seen as greenwashing our country’s image.

“People around the world buy our goods and services because of our environmental credentials and image – why on earth would we jeopardise that for the sake of offshore mining interests?

“Political leaders right now are having to make choices but the choice here is simple. Allow international mining giants to damage the very whenua which underpins our national identity and international brand, and send the profits offshore, or protect our environment, and deliver the leadership needed to develop a strong, future-focused economy centred around our people and our planet,” says Ms Toki.

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