Gareth Hughes

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

by Gareth Hughes

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?

Published in Environment & Resource Management | Featured by Gareth Hughes on Tue, October 4th, 2011   

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