Global concern at Nats’ plan to mine national parks

by frog

Scrutiny of Government plans to mine our conservation lands is deepening internationally. And it’s got people hot on Facebook too.

The Sunday Star Times ran a powerful feature on the weekend called “Picture imperfect”. It looks at international concern at New Zealand’s environmental performance, including National’s plan to mine conservation land:

IT’S JUST a stock-take of mineral resources, insists Gerry Brownlee, Minister of Energy and Resources. But the August announcement of a review of the schedule that prohibits mining and exploration in our national parks raised international hackles.

The 9th World Wilderness Conference (1500 delegates from 52 countries) in Mexico last month passed a resolution asking our government to retain the no-mining status quo measures of protection in relation to public conservation land within protected areas.

The government had already received a letter from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, after 200 delegates met in Korea: “The news that a modern, comparatively wealthy nation such as New Zealand is prepared to exploit its resources in lands set aside for biodiversity sends a disturbing message to more populous countries,” the IUCN said.

Today, the Greens received an e-newsletter from the Mountain Protected Areas that is being circulated around the world. It will be read by influencial policy makers world-wide.

The newsletter is from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s World Commission on Protected Areas, of which the New Zealand Government is a member. A section is critical of New Zealand’s change in position on mining protected areas:

Potential Problems In New Zealand PAs [Protected Areas]

From IUCN Regional Vice-Chair for Oceania, Penny Figgis comes some disturbing news about a threat from mining in NZ’s conservation estate. In a recent address to the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy 2009, the NZ Minister of Energy and Resources spoke on “Unlocking our Minerals Potential”. In it he stated: “In my short time as Minister, I have become acutely aware that one of the fundamental barriers to mineral exploration and development is access to prospective land, particularly to land administered by the Department of Conservation.”

Reasonable access to the mineral estate in Crown-owned land, particularly conservation land, is a key issue. Kiwi Bruce Jefferies has written expressing concern, and Nik Lopoukhine, WCPA Chair has written on behalf of the Commission. He has reminded the Prime Minister and the Ministers for Energy and Resources, and of Conservation, that NZ as an IUCN member, supported the resolution on mining passed at the 2000 World Conservation Congress in Amman, Jordan. It called for no mining in IUCN Categories I-IV. The mining industry itself in 2003 agreed not to exploit any World Heritage areas. It is hoped that the NZ Government will not permit this to move forward, especially in view of the PA leadership NZ has exhibited to date.

Last week, the Greens and the Federated Mountain Clubs broke the story that 20% of Mount Aspiring National Park was being touted for removal from Schedule 4 to make way for mining.

Since then the “Hands off Mt Aspiring” facebook page has gone ballistic, with 4325 members in a week. Join it now! I love this graphic:

Image from Julia Hamilton on the Facebook Page

Image from Julia Hamilton on the Facebook Page

frog says

Published in Environment & Resource Management by frog on Mon, December 7th, 2009   

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