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Mining, quarrying and infrastructure projects will be allowed to destroy New Zealand’s rarest and most important native species and habitats if they meet a 'significance test' under a government policy released for consultation today.  

The National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPS-IB) will, when finalised, provide national direction to help councils and landowners better protect rare and important native species and habitats, known as Significant Natural Areas (SNAs).  

Nicola Toki, Forest and Bird Chief Executive says, “A lot of hard work has gone on over the past two years to get this important piece of our environmental jigsaw puzzle out for discussion. But it feels like along the way, half the jigsaw pieces have been lost.

“New Zealand is in the depths of a biodiversity and climate crisis, with over 4000 native species on the path to extinction. Significant Natural Areas are among the most important remaining wild places left in Aotearoa New Zealand on both private and public land.  

“The proposal to allow coal and other extractive industries to destroy SNAs is glaringly inconsistent with the dire state of New Zealand’s environment, and with the Government’s stated ambitions for nature and the climate.  

“New Zealand urgently needs a framework and rules that protect SNAs on both public and private land, particularly from mining,” says Ms Toki.   

“Even though many landowners, farmers, and communities work hard to protect threatened species wherever they’re found, between 1996 and 2017, 84,000 ha of native tussock, shrubland and forest was destroyed.  

“Back in 2019 Forest & Bird, Federated Farmers, a representative of the Iwi Chairs Forum, the Forest Owners Association, the Environmental Defence Society, and representatives from infrastructure industries came together and achieved a consensus on the first draft of this National Policy Statement.  

“The final NPS-IB needs to build on that work and ensure New Zealand’s most important homes for wildlife are properly protected, including from mining.”

Read Forest & Bird’s 2020 Explainer on SNAs and the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity here.

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