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Forest & Bird is calling for all political parties to back an end to mining conservation land, after a permit was issued to mine the home of a critically-endangered native animal.

This week Oceana Gold was granted a 40-year mining permit from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment to mine conservation land within Coromandel Forest Park. The area of native forest is habitat for the critically-endangered Archey’s frog.

Pictures of the area and of Archey’s frogs, as well as a Forest & Bird magazine article, are available on dropbox here.

“New Zealanders care deeply about our natural areas – in 2010, tens of thousands of people marched down Queen Street in protest when National proposed opening up more conservation land to mining,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague.

“Now, a decade later, we’ve been waiting three years for Jacinda Ardern to fulfil a promise to end mining on all conservation land. Seven out of ten New Zealanders want a COVID recovery that is good for people and planet. Mining public conservation land is not it.

“It’s time to front up with some action to protect nature. Voters deserve to know if the party they support is offering a better future for people and planet,” he adds.

Archey’s frogs were once widespread, but are can now found naturally in two places in the country. They are the smallest of New Zealand’s four frog species, are deaf, and live under leaves and in trees, not in ponds.   

“Our environment has reached breaking point because we’ve allowed companies like Oceana Gold to clear forest in the habitat of the world’s most endangered frog. We are running out of time to save species such as Archey’s from extinction.

“This beautiful valley deserves our protection. Even underground mining has a direct impact on the frogs’ habitat and puts a pristine river at risk of subsidence and toxic contamination,” says Mr Hague.

Before beginning full-scale mining, Oceana Gold must also obtain resource consents and get permission for mining from the land owner – in this case the Department of Conservation.

But the Department has continued to grant permission for companies to mine conservation land, even after the Prime Minister’s 2017 Speech from the Throne which said mining on conservation land would end.

“As climate change increases the chances of future losses, it’s more important than ever that our public conservation land be kept safe for conservation purposes – not for mining," says Mr Hague.

"A lack of clarity on this issue puts nature at risk and wastes everybody’s time. That’s why we’re calling on all political parties to publicly state where they stand on the issue of mining on conservation land.” 

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