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A Few Good Green Wins

Written By: - Date published: 8:37 am, December 23rd, 2020 - 22 comments
Categories: climate change, david parker, Environment, labour, science, uncategorized, water - Tags:

January

Demonstrating that hydro electricity generation and the Department of Conservation can work well together, a small scale “run of river” 1.89 megawatt generator system on public conservation land in South Westland is approved. No dam, just smart thinking.

February

The Auditor General comes out with a really good report on freshwater, stormwater, and drinking water, and puts government, local government and the big users on notice: “Given the significance of water issues, what we expected to find: clear national strategies … coherent work programmes … robust systems … resourcing, planning and strategic risk management … and strong engagement models with communities and in particular Maori. We found that, although much good work was being done, all of these elements were not in place.”

So Ministers Parker and Mahuta accelerate their legislative plans, generate behind-the-scenes plans to gut councils whose agrarian interests have turned so many rivers into farm sewers, and given very limited attention to water security from climate change.

March

Everyone still around who fought for it back in the day gets together for the 50th anniversary of Forest and Bird’s record-breaking petition to save Lake Manapouri. It took them 10 years and by 1972 they had spent so much money on it they were nearly broke, but they won.

Membership of Forest and Bird skyrocketed as a result. In 2020 Forest & Bird are the powerhouse of New Zealand conservation – on the ground and in the courts – with a really formidable reputation for winning, growing, and winning again for nature.

Having celebrated that milestone, Covid-19 hit us.

And then a miracle happened. We saw more starlight. We cycled more. We walked more. We heard birds more. Many of us got to reconnect with the earth like we could hear it breathing again. Whole percentages of people were given more options to work from home. Tourism died and with it our CO2 production fell through the floor.

April

The Environmental Protection Authority gets rolled by the Court of Appeal about seabed mining off the Taranaki coast.

So the mining company who wanted it will never get to suck up 8,000 tonnes of seafloor every hour.

That’s a major win.

Nearly 900,000 hectares of national parks in the South Island have thousands more native birds in them thanks to the largest ever pest control operation, successfully turning the tide on the ‘mast year’ of 2019-2020. Kaka, Rock Wren, Kiwi and Blue Duck numbers all significantly increase. Yup, 1080.

May

In a spectacular win for nature, the government announces an incredible $1.1 billion for green jobs as part of its post-Covid19 recovery stimulus package.

The fine print in the package closely resembles the suggestions Forest & Bird campaigned for in their own document Recovery for People and Planet.

The rollout of this huge boost is turned into multiple months of really big regional conservation and eradication programmes right around the country especially with Predator Free programmes. https://predatorfreenz.org/

A new government plan intends to reduce seabird deaths to zero. That’s a big win for the zero bycatch campaigns from many groups over years.

June

$100 million is budgeted to redeploy Covid-19 affected workers to eradicate wilding pines. Queenstown prepares to go pine-free across all its hills.

Foodbanks get 18,000 kilograms of Fiordland Venison, in a partnership with the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation and the Department of Conservation.

July

The proposed Te Kuha opencast coal mine near Westport is stopped.

Forest & Bird had to go to the Supreme Court to do it, and they had to oppose pretty much everyone to do it.

But what was saved was bunches of great-spotted Kiwi, green geckos, forest ringlet butterflies, and 17 rare plant species.

The Reserves Act now trumps the Crown Minerals Act forever, when it comes to protecting nature.

Also in July, the High Court rules that the Department of Conservation can get going and cull down Thar by the thousand, against the managed game hunters’ opposition. By the end of the year they had killed off 7,500 of them, and will keep going in 2021.

The big drinking water quality legislation gets passed, and Councils are put on hard notice that they will either bring their water networks up to standard, or actually those governance reforms are going to truck on through and we will likely see all water providers amalgamated into maybe 6 for the whole country.

Breeding Kiwi expand back into reserves in the Coromandel. Wooot!

August

Rakitu Island off Great Barrier is declared predator free.

Native birds are shown to have increased right across the Heaphy Track, for five years.

September

After multiple years and lots of heavy handed resistance, the government announces it is making funding available to put cameras on 345 commercial fishing boats. The priority will be inshore long-lining, trawling, and set-netting vessels. It should be on all fishing boats, but it’s a great start.

The National Policy Statement on Fresh Water comes into force

  • Requirements include:
  • Fresh water much be managed to ‘give effect to’ the Treaty of Waitangi, and sets out how.
  • All regulators are required to improve degraded water bodies
  • All councils are required to make plans that improve fresh water quality everywhere
  • There are plans for every waterway to improve life for bugs, fish, oxygen levels, submerged plants, and other things like nitrates
  • Stock exclusion regulations are part of it
  • And government will come down on them like a tonne of bricks if it doesn’t improve. The Minister reads the riot act to Otago Regional Council.

October

Ardern gets shamed by revelations that her government has allowed new mining permits on 150,000 hectares of public conservation land.

She blames New Zealand First for the failure and recommits Labour to getting this done if they win the election.

The big Predator Free Rakiura project goes from idea to plan with a big chunk of money.

November

In the new government, Kiri Allan gets Conservation, and David Parker is reconfirmed as Environment Minister. James Shaw gets to specialise on climate change.

Eve’s Valley Reserve near Nelson gets a big replant of Podocarp after the big Pigeon Valley Fire in 2019.

December

The Hollyford Track, Milford Track, and the Routeburn Track reopen in time for high season.

Native bats in Te Anau and Pureora Forest start to make a big comeback after intensive predator control.

For the first time in decades, with no foreign tourists the DoC campgrounds and Great Walks are booked out by New Zealanders alone, reconnecting tens of thousands of us with nature in all its wild forms.

Always plenty of bad news when it comes to nature in New Zealand, but this year has had an accumulation of good.

22 comments on “A Few Good Green Wins ”

  1. Hunter Thompson II 1

    Thanks for listing the 2020 conservation wins for us. It is easy to become to focussed on the bad news, of which there is plenty.

    Farmers continue to treat rivers as ditches into which all manner of farm waste can be dumped.

    On 22 December media ran the story about an outbreak of cyanobacteria in Canterbury's Lake Clearwater. The lake is now a brown pea soup and has been closed to recreational use because the algae is a health hazard.

    Farming runoff was said to be the cause. Farmers denied this, blaming pollution from local baches and – can you believe this – natural wetlands.

    So Jacinda can add Lake Clearwater to Lake Ellesmere and the Selwyn river as water bodies in urgent need of a clean-up.

    • Maurice 1.1

      You mean the 'Seldom' river?

      How does one pollute a river which seldom has water running in it?

  2. Thanks Ad-good post.

    But the Nats will continue to say the Greens have no influence in parliament and it is a waste of time voting for them.

    Lets hope this government puts its money where its mouth is and dedicates significant funding to predator-free NZ.

    • Ad 2.1

      This most recent Briefing to Incoming Ministers has all the stats on how much they are putting into Predator Free projects. Along with bunches of other good stats.

      https://www.beehive.govt.nz/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dept%20of%20Conservation.pdf

      • Bearded Git 2.1.1

        Ad-I searched that PDF and Predator Free 2050, while mentioned, has a pretty low profile.

        • Ad 2.1.1.1

          p. 16 has the headline numbers. Probably all you could expect from a BIM skim.

          People like Forest & Bird will be watching the actual results of all this funding by mid-2021. It's a shit-tonne of tax-and-debt money compared to what they had, so the results had better be measurable.

          For example when are they going to actually start eradication on Stewart Island and Auckland Islands?

          Also is Queenstown-Lakes going to get some pressure to actually eradicate that massive pine plantation in the ranges behind Queenstown?

          Halting decline isn't enough.

  3. Stuart Munro 3

    Mike Joy would like to see a bit more.

    Most of his prescriptions, like permeable parking, are hardly bank-breaking.

  4. bwaghorn 4

    ""The Hollyford Track, Milford Track, and the Routeburn Track reopen in time for high season.""

    How is lots of cashed up kiwis (foreign hordes when the boarders open)

    Jetting into the south island to traipse around the hills a green win?

    • Ad 4.1

      It enables many hundreds of New Zealanders who would otherwise be displaced from doing great walks by foreign tourists to have an epic nature adventure within our national parks. You can't get to any of them without internal travel.

      • bwaghorn 4.1.1

        But surely to qualify as a green win it must have to be better for the planet tourism and unnecessary travel is hardly good for the planet.

        I realise all you wealthy greenish types love nothing more than congregating in a hut to talk about how many grams you latest bauble is ,but be honest it ain't green .

  5. Roy cartland 5

    What a great, hopeful post. If course there's more to do but it's great to see a few green shoots amongst the dust!

  6. Scud 6

    It’s going to go all too the shit house, when the Chinese Fishing Fleet & it’s Escort Fleet from the Chinese Coast Guard is based out of the PNG island of Daru.

    This should concern all NZ’ers, at the prospect of the Chinese Fishing Fleet establishing a base in PNG. But given silence of the NZG, the various political party’s and NGO’s during the election of the activities of the Chinese in& around Galápagos Islands and it intrusions in NZ’s EEZ Nth- Nth East of the Kermadec Islands was quite deafening. This only the thin edge of China’s attempt to destroy the fishing grounds of Sth PAC, Tasman Sea & the Southern Ocean through their shameful practice of unreported, unlicensed & over catching all fish species it pillage from the high seas. The Chinese Fishing Fleet has destroyed its own fishing grounds, the SCS , the Nth Korean including parts of the Russian Fishing Grounds and their actions around Galápagos Islands this yr is likely to cause the Galápagos Islands biodiversity to collapse within 18-24 mths time if it goes unchecked as they have done elsewhere within the Pacific. These guys make NZ Fishing Companies look like saints which they are not, but the Chinese Fishing Fleet is a whole new ballgame where the international based rules system to the Chinese is a load of fancy words s to give the EPMC’s (Entitled Political Management Class) a warm fizzy feeling.

    I must add the Chinese Fishing Fleet also escorted by it’s Coastguard Ships which are just as big as the RNZN ANZAC’s & would be able to out Gun the RNZN OPV’s. The sensor fit on those ships are similar to what our ANZAC’s have. The new SOPV with an option for a 2nd one is now must be a Priority for this NZG or else the NZG will lose control, access and it’s ability to enforce the rules to open sea fishing. As the Chinese don’t give a shit because all Liberal Democracies are all talk & no action and what I mean by that not prepared to give the order to use lethal deadly force even when they are in the right.

    With the effects of CC we are nolonger living in a “Benign Strategic Environment” & in fact I don’t believe we were never in such a an environment because the world see’s NZ as the gateway to the Southern Ocean. It only going to get worst with the effects of CC for the under resourced, undermanned NZDF in our region to the Nth, West, east and South especially the Southern Ocean including the Antarctic itself.

    This is a good read from the NZ Army’s KEA Learning Centre.
    https://kea-learning.nz/editors-pick/security-of-new-zealands-maritime-domain-is-the-defence-force-postured-to-deter-illegal-unreported-and-unregulated-fishing/

    • Ad 6.1

      When you take into account the Realm sea defence and fisheries management areas of Tokelau, Niue, Cook Islands and Antarctic claims, we are simply going to need a whole bunch more maritime patrol aircraft than the ones we have on order for 2023.

      But that's a while different post.

      • RedLogix 6.1.1

        Scud hits on a topic here I was contemplating writing a post on myself. Worth thinking about in the context of this geopolitical analysis:

      • Scud 6.1.2

        The NZDF are going to struggle in the coming yrs/ decades to maintain its Government mandated task and while at the same time to maintain its Utility of Force as required by the NZG of the Day.

        I think I’m on the record somewhere here on The Standard that the $20B Defence upgrade/ re-equipment Program was a tad short by $10B. I believe back then and even today that NZG & Treasury have short changed the NZDF by $10B as is it should be around the $30B. Heck even just getting rid of the Capital Charge accounting system that NZG / Treasury forced on the NZDF & the NZ MoD.

        The NZDF are going to need a few more ships including Southern Ocean Patrol Vessels (SOPV) and Maritime Patrol Surveillance Aircraft incl the use of Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) UAV’s which is going to pose a whole different questions?

        • Ad 6.1.2.1

          A reasonably smart Prime Minister of Australia would renegotiate ANZUS and the Five Power defence arrangement and re-settle the whole thing into something a bit more coherent.

          A defence pact that included Australasia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Commonwealth Pacific Islands would be a good start.

          But that would take a reasonably smart Prime Minister of Australia. Which we don't have.

          If there were a durable grouping that was signed up, and could form a common set of understanding with France and its territories, we might start to see a little more respect from China's navy.

          Until then, China is going to continue to divide and rule as a sea power.

          • RedLogix 6.1.2.1.1

            Well the recently concluded trilateral agreement between India, Japan and Australia feeds into this narrative as well. ScoMo has not been entirely idle.

            • Ad 6.1.2.1.1.1

              Supply chain resilience sounds useful, but I'd like to know some details about whether this agreement will defend them from anything.

          • Sanctuary 6.1.2.1.2

            "…A defence pact that included Australasia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Commonwealth Pacific Islands would be a good start…"

            The combined GDP of this alliance would make it a serious middle power – around 2.4 trillion or the equivalent of the 8th biggest economy in the world, and it would completely control maritime access to the Indian Ocean & thence to the Suez canal. Xi Jinping can stick that in his pipe and smoke it….

  7. Maurice 7

    ".. Australasia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Commonwealth Pacific Islands"

    Just a thought – those countries seem to all be former parts of the British Empire …. colonies no less!

  8. Patricia Bremner 8

    Thanks for this post Ad. We wring our hands and grind our teeth in frustration wanting everything done yesterday, but Green Shoots indeed.

    There are other problems to be tackled, but there always are!! We should celebrate and acknowledge the hard mahi done in many areas.

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