The Department of Conservation has sided with Forest & Bird in a bid to protect a significant wetland from being mined without public notification, and Forest & Bird says they are delighted to see DOC take a stand.
Forest & Bird filed a High Court application in October seeking to overturn resource consents issued by Northland Regional Council for peat mining in the Far North’s Kaimaumau wetland.
Northland Regional Council granted the consents to Resin and Wax Holdings Ltd to dig up 404 hectares of the Kaimaumau wetland to extract kauri resin and wax.
Despite Kaimaumau wetland being assessed as the second most important wetland in Northland with internationally important wildlife habitat, the Council decided to limit input on the consent decision from the public or relevant entities like DOC.
The Director-General of Conservation has today filed his own application challenging the same notification and consent decisions.
“We are absolutely thrilled to see DOC challenge these atrocious decisions” says Forest & Bird lawyer Sally Gepp.
“DOC’s call to bring legal proceedings will not have been taken lightly, and we commend DOC for taking this bold step. It is entirely in line with DOC’s role under the Conservation Act to advocate for New Zealand’s natural resources in this way”.
Across New Zealand, wetlands are a highly threatened ecosystem type. It is estimated that nationally only 10% of wetlands remain compared with pre-human conditions, and in Northland only 5% of wetlands remain.
Kaimaumau wetland is a stronghold for fernbird and is known to host rare orchids along with other threatened plants. Native mudfish and eels have also been found in its waterways. As a result, most of the wetland, including much of the area to be mined, qualifies as a “significant natural area” under Northland plan policies.