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Government must heed new report on adapting to climate change

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Forest & Bird calls on the new government – which has staked its reputation on dealing with climate change – to recognise the critical role our natural world plays not only in our economy, but also in protecting us against the worst impacts of climate change.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw today released a report prepared by an advisory panel of experts, on New Zealand’s adaptation to climate change.

“Forest & Bird commends the new Minister for releasing this report, which the previous government commissioned, but then withheld,” says Forest & Bird Climate Advocate Adelia Hallett.

“The expert panel is saying we need to take action now to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.”

“The report identifies that there has been a lack of central government leadership on climate change adaptation, which has left agencies and local government responding reactively, and in a piecemeal way.”

“We welcome the recommendation of a nationwide assessment of climate-related risks, to help develop an aligned approach across all sectors.”

“For years, Forest & Bird has been highlighting the impacts of climate change on our native species and their habitats, and that protecting and restoring ecosystems can provide a buffer from extreme weather events,” says Ms Hallett.

“It’s great to have this recognised by the expert panel.”

Ms Hallett says our wildlife is already being impacted by the warming climate – from more frequent mast years that produce additional food for predators, to diseases like kauri dieback and myrtle rust increasing their range.

“Species already in trouble could be pushed over the edge. Shorebirds like rare fairy terns will lose habitat to rising sea levels.”

However, a well-functioning natural environment can protect us from extreme weather events, says Ms Hallett.

“Healthy forests, free from possums and other introduced pests, lock up carbon. Healthy rivers with forest margins deliver water to downstream towns in times of drought, and moderate floods during heavy rainfall.“

“Healthy dune systems, estuaries and mangrove forests protect coastal settlements and infrastructure against storm surges, coastal erosion and rising sea levels.”

“The Government must show leadership reducing emissions, and protecting the natural systems that will protect all of us.”

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