Forest & Bird welcomes new report on rivers

 Forest & Bird today backed the New Zealand Conservation Authority’s recommendation that a single government agency be made responsible for protecting our outstanding rivers.

The NZCA today released a report, Protecting New Zealand’s Rivers, in response to the lack of protection of our rivers as water quality continues to decline, leaving many lowland rivers unsafe to swim in.

“For many decades the job of seeking protection of New Zealand’s outstanding rivers has fallen on NGOs such as Fish & Game and Forest & Bird,” Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell said.  

“It would be a good move to have this responsibility formally taken on by a properly resourced government agency. The obvious government agency to do this would be the Department of Conservation.” 

Forest & Bird supports the NZCA proposal for a strategic national approach to protecting rivers with outstanding ecological, landscape, scenic, recreational, amenity and cultural characteristics and values.

The NZCA recommendation would go a long way to implement the government’s recent National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management that has a key objective of “protecting the quality of outstanding water bodies”.

The NZCA has also made well considered recommendations for amending the Resource Management Act to better protect freshwater values and improve river management, for protecting freshwater biodiversity, and making Water Conservation Orders more effective.

“The Authority recognises that if we don’t act now we will lose our best rivers and the native animals and plants that depend on them, and has come up with good ideas for their protection,” Kevin Hackwell said.

While welcoming the NZCA’s focus on rivers, Forest & Bird considers the report’s recommendations are equally valid for other water bodies such as lakes, wetlands, aquifers and estuaries.