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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
$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.
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!
Rakitu Island off Great Barrier is declared predator free.
Native birds are shown to have increased right across the Heaphy Track, for five years.
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
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.
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.
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.