Forest & Bird is pleased to see the Government wants to prioritise nature-based solutions in the National Adaptation Plan, released today, saying European heatwaves and South Island flooding is showing the impacts of climate change are already too large to ignore.
“It’s great to see a commitment to prioritising nature-based solutions to the impacts climate change will have on us, but there’s a lot of work ahead to turn these good intentions into reality,” Nicola Toki, Chief Executive of Forest & Bird, says.
“The Government now needs to get on with hard-wiring nature-based solutions to climate change in the RMA reform, the Local Government Act, legislation on managed retreat and legislation governing infrastructure.
“Nature-based solutions like restoring dunes, forests and wetlands can help us weather climate change impacts. It’s a no-brainer that when we protect nature, we’re also protecting our homes and economy. This is investing in our future. That’s why we need much stronger commitments to restoring forests and sand dunes, doubling wetlands, and protecting mangroves than are in the Adaptation Plan.
“Many, if not all, of the places we live, work and love are going to change, so we need to start making the right choices now. We need to put nature at the heart of how we protect ourselves from sea level rise and extreme weather."
Ms Toki says Forest & Bird’s key asks are:
- Developing a national programme to make 'room for rivers’.
- Increasing pest control across all public land (including all public conservation land).
- Developing a Wetland Restoration Plan aimed at doubling the extent of natural wetlands in New Zealand by 2050.
- Developing a programme of coastal restoration.
- Reducing reliance on irrigation.
- Acknowledgement that the costs of adaptation should primarily be met by all greenhouse gas polluters.
“We need to recognise that nature isn’t just a ‘nice-to-have', but the foundation of our resilience from significant weather events, for example. There must be significant investment in the protective benefits nature provides our communities, farms, towns and infrastructure. Investing in our native wildlife and wild places is an investment in our resilience,” Ms Toki says.
“We don’t have the benefit of time. This is our opportunity to act with urgency and hope. I firmly believe we can turn things around if we make the right choices, but we don’t have time to delay. Looking at the flooded paddocks and homes in my community, it’s time to get started.”
Nature-based solutions are increasingly being recognised as key to successful climate adaptation. As far back as the 1920s, Forest & Bird’s founding members could see how the forest destruction wrought by early settlers was contributing to flooding and erosion and threatening the life and livelihoods of those who lived downstream. And they took action.
Today, Forest & Bird is actively improving New Zealand’s resilience through nature-based projects across New Zealand. These projects are being delivered by Forest & Bird staff and the work of nearly 50 member-led branches. They are protecting, enhancing, and restoring nature across the motu in ways that are helping make us all more resilient.