Nature needs to be part of any planning for rising sea levels

Forest & Bird agrees with the PCE’s conclusion that there needs to be careful planning of the country’s response to sea level rise.

NZ fairy tern are just one of the species that will be adversely affected by sea level rise.

The report concludes that around 10,000 houses in Auckland, Wellington. Christchurch and Dunedin are threatened by the earliest sea rise. This is almost the same number of houses that had to be demolished after the Christchurch earthquake.

Climate change advocate, Geoff Keey, says the country is going to have to carefully plan and manage the retreat where there is high risk from climate disruption.

“In that planning we need to create space for nature, particularly as nature will play a very important role in reducing the impacts of climate disruption such as sea level change,” said Geoff Keey.

“While the report shows that many people may lose their homes to sea level rise in the next few decades, the first New Zealanders to become homeless will be our coastal native plants and animals that are likely to be squeezed out of their habitat,” said Geoff Keey.

“Examples include the critically endangered fairy terns that breed on shell banks just above the spring high tide and shorebirds such as the godwit that could see the loss of their estuarine habitats.

Healthy dune systems, estuaries and mangroves will all help to protect coastal areas from the worst impacts of storm surges that will come from sea level rise,” said Geoff Keey.

The PCE’s report highlights the need for the NZ government to change its proposed position for the Paris Climate Change talks and adopt meaningful reduction targets.

“The effects of climate disruption will be a critical threat to our native species and ecosystems. New Zealand needs to have a very clear vision about what we want to achieve and what outcomes we need,” said Geoff Keey.

“Forest & Bird is advocating for a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 and a bold plan for achieving those reductions. By 2040 New Zealand should be carbon neutral and to have measures in place that increase biodiversity resilience and ensure against climate disruption,” said Geoff Keey.