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Forest & Bird is calling on the Department of Conservation to decline an application for a new opencast mine that would destroy native forest on conservation land.

“At a time when relatively few old-growth temperate forests remain in the world, New Zealand’s native forests are a precious resource and carbon store,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague.  

“New Zealanders love nature and rightly have an expectation that our old-growth forests will be protected for future generations, especially on conservation land.”  

Kokiri Lime Company Limited have applied for 40-year consents to quarry approximately 30ha of primarily mature native forest within Te Wāhipounamu South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. The planned quarry includes 15ha of conservation land, 1ha of which been quarried before.

The application has been considered high enough impact that it has been publicly notified. Forest & Bird Regional Manager Nicky Snoyink is presenting to a hearing panel today arguing that the quarry application should be declined. Pictures of the area are available here.

“We need to find sources of rock that don’t involve destroying native forest, home to dozens of trees more than 500 years old. This forest is likely home to endangered native birds such as falcon, kea and kākā, as well as our extremely rare long-tailed bats,” says Mr Hague.  

In 2017 the Labour Government promised to stop new mines on conservation land, but no progress has been made.    

“This area is surrounded by spectacular landscapes and full of incredibly special plants and animals. But like many other pieces of precious conservation land it is only classified as stewardship land, which has slightly weaker legal protection. It’s time we prioritize protection of the entire conservation estate.”

“With threats from climate change increasing, these areas also urgently need our protection to keep climate change to safe levels,” adds Mr Hague.   

“The carbon in this forest is essentially irrecoverable on timescales relevant for avoiding dangerous climate change.”

The Climate Change Commission’s recent report stated that deforestation is still a significant source of carbon emissions in New Zealand.  

The Commission’s pathway involves ending native deforestation in New Zealand by 2025, and one of the necessary actions was a recommendation that Government improve and enforce measures to reduce deforestation of pre-1990 native forests.  

“A responsible and honest first step towards implementing the Climate Change Commission’s recommendations would be for Government to decline this proposal and stop all new mines on conservation land.”

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