Forest & Bird says a new Government strategy for the minerals and petroleum sector lacks the urgency needed to address the biodiversity and climate crises.
“Nature underlies our wellbeing,” says Forest & Bird Chief Conservation Advisor Kevin Hackwell. “At the moment, we’re failing to protect nature, and mining has been a driver of that biodiversity loss.
“It’s all very well to say the vision is for environmentally responsible mining, but with the environment only being ‘respected’, this Strategy does not have the teeth it needs.”
“Continued mining of fossil fuels will lead to more biodiversity loss. Many of our species aren’t going to be able to adapt to catastrophic weather events or warming oceans. This spring, we’re already seeing birds suffering from rat population explosions, disruptions to migratory seabirds and reports of penguins starving, all of which are associated with climate change.”
The Strategy does remain consistent with the Government’s decision to stop new mines on conservation land.
“We applaud that. But it’s been two years since that promise, and we still have no legislative change. Mines pits continue to be dug on public conservation land, with environmental consequences such as polluting waterways, felling bat-roost trees, and blocking native fish passage,” says Mr Hackwell.
“It’s a no brainer that a first step to protect wetlands, lowland forest or rare habitats, is to protect all public conservation land.”
Forest & Bird’s submission on the Strategy is available here, and also covers regulatory failings, as well as lack of industry compliance and community engagement.
“Forest & Bird is also concerned about the lack of ability for New Zealanders to have their say in minerals and petroleum operations, both on land and offshore. More consents need to be publicly notified and the Government should work to achieve that.
“Ultimately the minerals industry in New Zealand needs to swiftly transition to a carbon-neutral circular economy, and our view is that this document fails to send a clear signal of that change.”