Forest & Bird and Federated Mountain Clubs are taking court action over management of Paparoa National Park.
The judicial review filed in the High Court yesterday challenges a New Zealand Conservation Authority decision to approve the Paparoa National Park Management Plan, which now allows helicopter landings.
“The West Coast Conservation Management Strategy (WCCMS) clearly sets down the undesirability of aircraft in Paparoa National Park, as one of the few parks where natural quiet predominates,” says Forest & Bird Canterbury West Coast Regional Manager Nicky Snoyink.
WCCMS page 206:
Paparoa National Park stands as a premier example of natural New Zealand. It is one of the few national parks where natural quiet predominates and is a sanctuary for a diversity of nationally and internationally important geological features and indigenous plants and animals.
WCCMS page 216:
The Department advocates strongly against scenic flights over the Park and Paparoa Wilderness Area (see Map 11), so that people can continue to enjoy the natural quiet of these places.
“That conservation management strategy is the overarching conservation planning document for the region. Changing the National Park plan to breach the management strategy means breaking an legally-mandated agreement that has been reached with the public, as well as undermining protection in the region,” says Ms Snoyink.
Conservation planning documents have a clear hierarchy, including the National Park Act at the top, then regional conservation management strategies, then other more local plans. A National Park Management Plan should not derogate from higher order planning documents.
“It is crucial that proper process is followed and it’s clear that this has gone badly awry – allowing it to go unchallenged would risk setting a poor precedent for other national park management plans.
“The parts of the plan that refer to aircraft other than for park management purposes need to be quashed. That natural quiet is one of the reasons Paparoa National Park is so special,” says Ms Snoyink.
“In national parks, we need to keep protection of nature at the heart of what we do.”