Forest & Bird urges the Government to follow the recommendations of a very diverse forum of farmers, industry, environmental NGOs, iwi and recreational users on freshwater and land use.
The recommendations lay out a path for improving the state of our streams, rivers and lakes, while meeting New Zealand's long-term interests.
The Land and Water Forum was tasked by the Government in 2009 to come up with a policy framework for resolving the difficult issues around land practices and the state of our water bodies.
The Government will release the forum's third and final report today.
The three reports have recommended integrated catchment management and decision making, the setting of national bottom lines (limits) for water use and quality, and clearer rights and responsibilities for land and water users to manage within those limits.
“The agreed framework has come about from a careful consideration of the scientific, cultural, economic and practical considerations needed to get good outcomes for the environment as well as for land use," says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.
"Over the three years there has been a lot of give and take on the part of all participants as they have focussed on a solutions-based approach. There has been a lot of rigorous debate and testing of how different parts of the solution fit together.
“The resulting recommendations, as a whole, will deliver what all New Zealanders want – cleaner rivers and streams - while meeting existing and future economic welfare,” Kevin Hackwell says.
"This is a great opportunity to finally get the freshwater issue sorted.
"It is important that the forum's recommendations are dealt with as an integrated package. They lay out a framework that represents a potential win-win for all parties.
"What underpins the final report is an acknowledgement from industry groups that their best environmental performers are often their best economic performers," Kevin Hackwell says.
"This shows that even under a new limits regime, policies and strategies that encourage all players to improve their performance towards best practice have the potential to benefit the environment as well as the economy.
“This may seem logical, but has not been a part of many people’s thinking until now. But of course it’s common sense. For example, a farmer whose fertiliser is running into the local stream is a farmer who is losing money, end of story,” Kevin Hackwell says.