Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Raping the land...

 (Image from Labour Party website)

The New Zealand government is proposing to remove protected areas of land from Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act.

Schedule 4 identifies conservation land, which, due to its high conservation values, should be excluded from the possibility of being mined. This land includes national parks, nature reserves and scientific reserves – land considered to be core conservation land. About 40% of the conservation estate (13% of New Zealand’s landmass) is in Schedule 4.

Recently Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee proposed a “stock take” of Schedule 4 land to see if it could be opened up for mining. Some permits have already been granted to mine Schedule 4 land, including in national parks. Most mining is carried out on other conservation land outside Schedule 4.

Areas being eyed up by the government include Great Barrier Island, the Coromandal, Paparoa National Park and Rakiura National Park on Stewart Island.

On May 1 an estimated 40-50,000 people (depending on your perspective) marched in Auckland in protest at the government's intention to mine on conservation land.

         (Image, Nigel Marple)

On Sunday 2nd, the day after the Auckland protest, Claire and I attended a local meeting organised by Ruth Dyson and addressed by Jen Miller of Forest and Bird.

The bottom line for me - the reason I attended this meeting and the reason that I will march when there is a similar protest in Christchurch - is my belief that this 'protected' land must remain just that. No minor incursions, no 'surgical' mining, no faith in promises of restoration. This land is sacrosanct. We owe its protection not just to those whose vision it was, to ourselves and our children and grandchildren, but to the flora and fauna with whom we share the land.

Any doubts - visit Stockton coal mine on the West Coast or Macraes gold mine in Otago or the wastelands in Tasmania...

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