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AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE LOGGING ACTIONS OF THE NEW ZEALAND GOVERNMENT ON THE WEST COAST - IN TERMS OF THE CONVENTION ON BIODIVERSITY

 

CONTENTS

1. Executive Summary

2. The articles of the Convention on Biodiversity(CBD)

3. What has New Zealand said it is doing to implement the CBD?

4. What is the standard mechanism by which NZ identifies and protects biological diversity?

5. What is DoC doing about completing PNA surveys of areas programmed for logging by the Government?

6. Conclusions

7. References


 

Executive Summary

The Convention on Biodiversity is examined to assess which Articles are applicable to the New Zealand Government logging actions on the West Coast.

The report to the Convention by the NZ Government is examined to ascertain what actions were being taken to address key objectives.

The NZ Statutes that support a terrestrial protected area network were considered, and found to be supported by an active program of ecological survey.

The programmes of the Government Department responsible for Biodiversity Conservation, the Department of Conservation, were examined to assess what actions are being taken to address key objectives and carry out the indicated actions of ecological survey.

It was found that despite the positive reporting to the Convention, the NZ Government was diverting terrestrial protected area network survey resources away from its own logging operations on the West Coast.

The NZ Government was found to be acting contrary to the Convention on Biodiversity and its own Statutes.

It would be acting in compliance if it was to complete Protected Natural Area Programme surveys and appropriate legal protection, before any logging commenced.

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The Articles of the Convention on Biodiversity(CBD)

New Zealand ratified the CBD on 19/9/1993 to give effect to from 31/12/1993. The Convention was signed by Rob Story, then Minister for the Environment.

Article 8 In-situ Conservation provides that:

Each contracting party shall, as far as possible and appropriate:

  1. Establish a system of protected areas* or areas where special measures need to be taken to conserve biological diversity*;
  2. Develop, where necessary, guidelines for the selection, establishment and management of protected* areas or areas where special measures need to be taken to conserve biological diversity*;

*Article 2 defines the following:

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What has NZ said it is doing to implement the CBD?

Article 26 of the CBD requires parties to present a report on measures taken to implement the CBD:

"Each Contracting Party shall, at intervals to be determined by the Conference of the Parties, present to the Conference of the Parties, reports on measures which it has taken for the implementation of the provisions of this Convention and their effectiveness in meeting the objectives of this Convention."

The initial National Report to the CBD by New Zealand in 1997 stated:

Legal and Institutional Arrangements

Component of Biodiversity

Terrestrial protected area network

General Management Approach

Active programme to improve representativeness

Agency

Department of Conservation(DoC)

Objectives of Future Management Programme and Key Actions

Component of Biodiversity

Terrestrial protected area network

Key Objectives of Future Management Programme

Improve the representativeness of the network

Actions

Continue the Protected Natural Areas Programme to identify important unprotected ecosystems, and continue land acquisition programmes to fill gaps in network

Agency

Department of Conservation(DoC)

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What is the standard mechanism by which NZ identifies and protects biological diversity?

 

Reserves Act 1977

The Reserves Act has a purpose of:

Ensuring, as far as possible, ….the preservation of representative samples of all classes of natural ecosystems..

This Act is administered by the DoC. It is considered internationally to provide an excellent legislative expression of the concept of representativeness.

 

Protected Natural Areas(PNA) Programme

This Programme began in 1981 with the Government establishing a framework of 268 Ecological Districts. In 1982 the National Parks and Reserves Authority sought the support of Government Departments for a PNA Programme, and by 1983 a Programme was in place and surveys had commenced. Individual PNA programme surveys are undertaken for each Ecological District(ED). Only 70 ED's have had full surveys completed since the programme began. Some 30 ED's are almost totally protected and do not need a survey.

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What is DoC doing about completing PNA surveys of areas programmed for logging by the Government?

 

Restoring the Dawn Chorus - DoC Strategic Business Plan - 1998-2002

This Plan has a Natural Heritage Goal to:

Establish a network of naturally functioning protected natural areas.

An objective is to:

Establish a network of protected natural areas which represent the full range of New Zealand's terrestrial (including freshwater) natural heritage.

An outcome target is to:

Continue to undertake PNA programme surveys at an average rate of four per year.

The intended direction is that:

As resources and capacities permit, complete all existing survey work and increase the rate that surveys are undertaken to an average of 15 per year.

Process targets include:

Comment

At the targeted rate of 4 surveys per year it will take 40 years to complete NZ, while the intended rate of 15 surveys per year will take only 11 years to complete NZ.

 

DoC - West Coast - Draft?? Conservation Management Strategy 1996

The statutory operational strategic plans required of DoC are called Conservation Management Strategies(CMS).

The Draft CMS for the West Coast area of NZ has a section on Ecological Regions and Districts: a framework for identifying areas for protection.

An Objective is:

To identify and seek protection for key gaps in the protected area network.

The actions that DoC will take are listed as:

    1. Identify through Protected Natural Area Programme surveys or other similar means those natural ecosystems and landscapes that are under-represented in the protected natural area network (e.g. marine, lowland and freshwater), particularly in the Karamea ED, Foulwind ED and Grey Valley ED.
    2. Implement the findings of the PNAP or related surveys in co-operation with landowners and/or their representatives, and Regional and Local Authorities.

Comment

The cited ED's are targeted as the highest priority because they are "extensively modified". No attempt has been made to attach highest priority to areas that are relatively unmodified and are under threat from logging. The West Coast logging activities of the NZ Government involve about 15 ED's of which only one(Ngakawau) has been surveyed to date.

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Conclusions

 

CBD

The NZ Government is acting contrary to Article 8 of the CBD that it signed since it set up its logging operation on the West Coast.

It has not set aside a system of protected areas in the areas on the West Coast that it is logging, despite telling the UN that it had a PNA Programme that was doing so.

 

Statutory Actions

The NZ Government is ignoring its own statutory requirement for protecting ecosystems, by logging areas that have not yet been surveyed by the Protected Natural Areas Programme. Some of these areas have been documented as being of "Outstanding Value" by the Governments own Wildlife agency.

 

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References

 

Convention on Biological Diversity 1992

NZ Government 1997, National Report : Convention on Biological Diversity.

Department of Conservation 1998, Restoring the Dawn Chorus, Wellington New Zealand

Department of Conservation 1996, WEST COAST Conservation Management Strategy 1996 - 2005, Hokitika, New Zealand

NZ Department of Scientific and Industrial Research 1986, The New Zealand Protected Natural Areas Programme A Scientific Focus, Wellington, New Zealand

Reserves Act 1977

Coker, P.M. & Imboden, C 1980, Wildlife Values and Wildlife Conservation in South Wetsland, Fauna Survey Unit Report No. 21, NZ Wildlife Service, WellingtonNFA Strategic Actions

 

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