Conditional support by Forest & Bird for Land & Water Forum’s 4th report

Forest and Bird says it cannot support those recommendations of the Land and Water Forum’s 4th report that aim to ‘maximise economic benefits from the use of freshwater’ until there are completed national standards for water quality that protect freshwater life.

“It has always been an important principle of the freshwater reforms, and of the LAWF’s work, that limits to ensure the ecological health of freshwater should be set first, so that irrigation and other development will be subject to those limits.” said Kevin Hackwell, Forest & Bird’s Group Manager, Campaigns and Advocacy.

“A significant portion of the recent LAWF workload was to provide advice on how to “maximise the economic benefit of freshwater while managing within water quality and quantity limits”. Those water quality limits need to be consistent with the National Objective Framework for Freshwater (NOF).

“However, the present NOF is incomplete and many of its standards do not provide for ecological health. A review of the NOF is scheduled for completion by the end of 2016,”

Kevin Hackwell says that after careful consideration, Forest & Bird has decided that it could only support the recommendations for maximising economic benefits of the 4th report of LAWF if there was an assurance that limits will provide for ecological health.

“Regrettably, at this stage we do not have that assurance and therefore cannot endorse many of the report’s recommendations."

“We have decided that given the importance of this issue, we intend to stay at the Land and Water Forum table to advocate for those limits."

“On that basis, we look forward to continuing our involvement in LAWF and specifically to contributing to next year’s essential work on the NOF review and limit setting. Once that work is completed, it will be possible for Forest and Bird to support “maximising the economic benefit from freshwater while managing within limits".

Since 2009 Forest & Bird has been a committed participant in the Land & Water Forum and its collaborative process.

“For the sake of clarity there are many recommendations in the 4th report that are not dependent on the establishment of limits that protect ecological health which Forest & Bird can endorse right away. These include the recommendations that relate to stock exclusion, riparian setbacks, iwi rights and interests, transparency of information and models used in collaborative processes,” said Mr Hackwell.

To read the letter written by Forest & Bird to the Chair of the Land & Water Forum, click here.