02, Jul, 2007

Tackling climate change, protecting the oceans and freshwater priorities for environmentalists

Category: ECO Inc

Environmentalists and groups including farmers on the weekend agreed on the need for urgent action to protect rivers and water ecosystems and for action on climate change.

The national environmental summit in Motueka this weekend heard from farmers and others from the Orari River area who stressed the need for integrated catchment management to protect rivers and river ecosystems and to protect the livelihoods of the future.

The Conference was organised by the Environment and Conservation Organisations (ECO). ECO Spokesperson, Cath Wallace, said all agreed that rivers and water quality are essential for sustainable farming, recreation and tourism, and for their intrinsic beauty.

“The pictures of the Orari Gorge and braided rivers, and the integrated catchment management work they were doing drew applause from the audience. Regional Councils were urged to be more vigilant to protect public interests in waterways and not to allow large dams and unsustainable irrigation.”

“Climate friendly policies including controlling the use of nitrogen on pastures, and reducing dairy farm intensity were agreed. The government was urged not to reward polluters with allocation of free greenhouse gas pollution payments.”

“Forestry policy for a better climate was discussed, and the government urged to promote pest control to protect native ecosystems and to help reduce climate change.”

Cath Wallace said “the national summit for the environment set a clear agenda to move urgently on key issues that need attention.”

“The national summit priorities agreed were: protecting oceans and inshore waters; reducing damage to marine environments from fishing such as bottom trawling; getting community and government action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; avoiding coal mining and burning fossil fuels; helping communities to protect biodiversity and endangered species with a National Biodiversity Policy Statement and to make better waste management; and defending the Resource Management Act from a “think big” agenda.

“Spying by government agencies and corporations on community groups was censured by a unanimous resolution of the conference which deplored Solid Energy’s use of such spies. This decision was in response to the recent exposure of corporate spying by Solid Energy on the Happy Valley society.”

“Laws to control mining on the seafloor, for an Oceans Policy with teeth, and much better measures to protect the marine environment from fishing impacts were called for repeatedly during the conference.”

“A truly sustainable energy strategy to reduce energy demand and phase out coal use for energy was urged. The meeting said that immediate effective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors of society, including farming and transport is needed now to address climate change.”

“It is clear that the environment is vitally important to both young and old. The youth contingent at the conference was strong and engaged and pressed for further action on climate change, ocean management, better public transport, GE free food and much improved education for sustainability.”

“The meeting heard that voluntary approaches to waste management had not worked and that a waste levy was needed, particularly to encourage reduction of waste from construction activities.”

For further information contact Cath Wallace 04-389-1696(h) or 021-891-994 or 04-463-5713(w) – ECO co-chair

Barry Weeber 04-970-8696, 021-738-807 ECO vice-chair

Bruce Allen, 03-696-3886 - Orari River Group