Motorways: the best thing to happen for biodiversity since…the time before motorways?

I had to check it wasn’t April 1st, when I saw this press release from the New Zealand Transport Agency: ‘NZTA’s Auckland motorway network a haven for NZ’s rare plants.’

Describing kaka-beak, Maori musk, Coromandel koromiko and New Zealand myrtle planted alongside the motorway spokesperson Mr Gardner (it would be a Mr Gardner) makes Spaghetti Junction sound more like Tiritiri Matangi.

Apparently “Motorways are a perfect place to encourage a plant like the kaka-beak” I guess much like the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea or the people-free nuclear wasteland surrounding Chernobyl.

I’m wondering if this is all a mix up. Perhaps Transport Minister, Steven ‘Colossus of Roads’ Joyce, sent an instruction to the NZTA for a press release stressing a conservative line but accidentally wrote conservation line.

More likely I think, after losing the economic, environmental, congestion and benefit cost ratio arguments Joyce really is scrapping the barrel for justifications for borrowing billions to pour on more motorways at a time when traffic is down, petrol up and public transport growth through the roof. Talk about green-washing motorways.

Don’t get me wrong, it is good to see some planting and it is better than nothing. However, planting a total of 11 hectares in natives isn’t a justification for the roughly 700 hectares of land and plants these motorways displaced.

But maybe this is the answer to DoCs funding woes. Can you just imagine how many rare plants we could save with the Kahurangi Road of National Significance?

3 thoughts on “Motorways: the best thing to happen for biodiversity since…the time before motorways?

  1. Gareth, Thanks… a succinct & humourous piece.

    “More likely I think, after losing the economic, environmental, congestion and benefit cost ratio arguments Joyce really is scrapping the barrel for justifications for borrowing billions to pour on more motorways at a time when traffic is down, petrol up and public transport growth through the roof.”

    Joyce and his side kick Guy are Mad… and as Euripides once said, “Those whom the Gods whish to destroy they first make them Mad”

  2. The use of kaka beak in this just adds insult to injury. Kaka beak is extremely threatened, and the plants that they are planting are just cultivars from commercial nurseries, with limited genetic variation. This does nothing to add to the viability of wild populations of kaka beak. Boo hiss boo!

  3. As much as I disagree with the promotion of motorways and extra roads over other options, I’m having trouble seeing any malice in this press release. As well as I can see, it’s just an organisation tasked with operating motorways that’s it’s trying to make them very slightly less ugly and dirty to drive on. Press releases like this are common without any political involvement, even if Joyce might stand to gain something.

    If motorways are going to go ahead, I’d rather this kind of thing any day than the gratuitously big and expensive concrete road-side sculptures that I have to occasionally see throughout Melbourne’s toll road systems.

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