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_______________Tena Koe Welcome! _________________


ECO Website

This is the virtual home of ECO. Since 1972 ECO has been the umbrella group for environment and conservation organisations in New Zealand.

This website has information about ECO and its 50+ member groups as well as news of the environment and major conservation issues in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Please look around our website to learn more about our work and access resources and links of importance.

If you need further information contact the ECO Office in Wellington.

Contact ECO at this address  or phone 0064 4 385 7545

ECO Webinar

Reflecting on COP26: Getting Real - Actions to Reduce NZ’s Greenhouse emissions

11am to Noon – 24 November
 
On the last day for submissions on what should be in New Zealand’s Emissions Reductions Plan (ERP), you are invited online to join ECO, Climate Change Minister Hon James Shaw, and climate action commentator and Coal Action Network member Cindy Baxter, to reflect on COP26, to evaluate the NZ Nationally Determined Commitment (NDC) and to focus on what actions our Emissions Reductions Plan must contain for real and deep emissions reductions.

The session will be introduced by ECO Co-chair, Barry Weeber, the Minister will speak for 15 minutes, Cindy Baxter for 8 minutes, and that will be followed by questions, short expressions of opinions, and answers.
 
James Shaw will be in MIQ during this time.
 
Register for the event here.
 
This is a free event, however, ECO runs on volunteers' time and effort, if you'd like to support our operations please donate through the event page.


ECO Conference was cancelled

2021 Annual Conference 'Resetting the Future: Opportunities for Change' was cancelled

The AGM was completed on line, all reports were approved and the Executive for 2021-22 was elected.  Thanks to all the groups and friends who attended the online meeting.

The ECO Executive is developing a series of webinars on topical issues that we were going to cover at the Conference.  The first is the Minister of Climate Change, and associate Environment Minister for Biodiversity, James Shaw.  Details of future webinars will be advertised in the New Year.

Thanks everyone.  We are contacting people who have registered.


2021 is a year of major environmental change and challenge and ECO welcomes member organisation’s participation in our discussions and decisions. 

 

 

 

 

Current Events

 

Follow the events tab near top right of the screen for events happening near you.  Or subscribe to Tieke (with "subscribe Tieke" in the subject) to find out what is happening this week near you.

 

Volunteer with ECO - click here for opportunities

ECO Stall

 

Become a Friend of ECO - find out how and join up and support ECOs work.

 

If you are from a group you can apply to join ECO as a member organisation - find out how

 

To contact our National Office: 04 385 7545 or email us



ECO Executive

Join the Action 

At this critical time in our environmental future, many organisations are joining the movement to lobby our Government and business, about their concerns for initiatives that appear counter productive to the objective of protecting the environment.  Here is a list of petitions and actions that ECO has been asked to circulate around our network.

Petitions

Coromandel Watchdog petition launched – you can help

Call for an immediate moratorium on minerals permits on Conservation Land 

You are encouraged to sign it too and to help pass it around.
 
When the new Labour-NZ First Coalition government announced its policies in late 2017 in the Speech from the Throne, it said that there would be “no new mines on conservation land”.  Labour gained a whole lot of support from people who wanted nature protected. But the announcement also sent lobbyists into overdrive, and some in Labour and others in New Zealand First baulked. Pro-mining lobbyists went into over-drive and set about reinterpreting “conservation land” too.
 
Fast forward to September 2020 and the complete lack of action on the policy has tarnished Labour’s credibility. But that’s not all. NZ First seems to be blocking the policy too.
 
Since the announcement, more than 150,00 ha of mining permits have been approved on conservation land according to documents released to Forest and Bird under the OIA.

Stewardship land is just conservation land which hasn’t been given its conservation classification yet – and much of it has very high conservation values, including some areas in World Heritage areas and other precious areas.
 
The total area of stewardship land is about one-third of conservation land, so we must be vigilant.  For further information on the petition.

Petition launched to ban all new fossil fuel expansion

A coalition of over 20 groups including ECO has launched a petition to ban all new fossil fuel expansion by 2022.  The petition was started by Climate Justice Taranaki, Coal Action Network Aotearoa, and Taranaki Energy Watch.

For further information see:  Groups launch petition to ban all new fossil fuel expansion by 2022  The webpage also has links to petroleum activity in Taranaki and offshore.  Please sign the petition - link to the petition on Action Station

Petition to ban seabed mining

Now is the time for Aotearoa New Zealand to taihoa - wait!  Greenpeace has launched a petition calling for the Government to ban seabed mining in New Zealand’s waters. The petition goal is supported by a broad range of organisations including ECO. Seabed mining is a new threat to the oceans. Now is our chance to prevent the destruction before it’s too late.

The petition calls on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to ban seabed mining in Aotearoa New Zealand. You can sign the petition and take action here.

Sign the Petition to Bring back general tree protection

Greenpeace has launched a petition calling on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to urgently reinstate general tree protection across Aotearoa to save our precious trees. All over Aotearoa, our big old trees are being cut down at an alarming rate. They need to be protected.  For more information see article.

The senseless destruction of part of an irreplaceable stand of old native trees at Canal Road in Avondale in Auckland is just the most recent example of why we need to reinstate tree protection. Up to one third of Auckland's urban trees have been destroyed since the last National Government removed general tree protection in 2012. Sign the petition here

Petition to set a Nitrate limit of 1mg/l for waterways

Greenpeace and other ENGOs are calling for a reduction in the freshwater nitrate limit to a level which will protect native species and human health by setting a nitrate pollution limit of under 1mg per litre (mg/l) for waterways.  You can support this call by signing the petition here.

Help protect special deep sea areas oceans  - the Kauri Forests of the Seas

ECO with our allies presented a petition to Parliament calling for action to protect Seamounts and similar features.  Aotearoa needs to change its antiquated approach to the management of bottom trawling which lags behind the rest of the world.  Bottom trawling involves dragging monstrous, weighted fishing nets through delicate ocean communities, like seamounts, decimating everything in their path.  There’s new evidence suggesting they’ll never fully recover.  MPI have increased catch limits for Chatham Rise and Challenger orange roughy fisheries with no measures to protect seamounts and other vulnerable marine areas.

Globally one million species face extinction. New Zealand, alone, has one of the highest proportions of species at risk in the world. The groups argue we should be creating biodiversity safe havens on land and sea rather than allowing business as usual to continue.

Other issues

Deal for Nature

The Joint Deal for Nature which was featured in past Tieke includes policies to:

  • Protect 30 percent of all ecosystems by 2030, including each marine habitat with true marine protection areas;

  • Increase funding for addressing threats posed by invasive plants, pathogens, and animals;

  • Implement policy to end mining on and under conservation land and strengthen conservation legislation;

  • Reform the Resource Management Act, so it offers greater environmental protection;

  • Diversify farming and reduce livestock numbers, fertiliser use, irrigation and sedimentation;

  • Protect wetlands and restore freshwater systems;

  • Reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and put a price on emissions from agriculture and improve public transport 

  • Account for environmental costs in economic decision making

  • End all new oil and gas exploration

You can download the Aotearoa Deal for Nature from the ECO website. 

RMA Covid Act Fast-tracked

The Resource Management Act Covid fast track Act takes away the community input from up to 1800 projects is now being implements after it was rushed through parliament in the middle of 2020. 

The fast track COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act was put through a very short Select Committee process. Rather than allowing a month for submissions and a several month Select Committee process, the Government has only given the Environment Select Committee 8 days to receive submissions, hear submissions and report back to Parliament.

The Act is proposed to remain in force for 2 years but there is no justification for this period.
 
ECO considers the Government has not justified the introduction of this Bill. It removes public input, overturns their principles of public engagement they developed for the RMA Review and the Resource Management Amendment Bill. Only ACT voted against the introduction of the Bill. National supported the Bill to the Select Committee process as did the Greens.  The Greens voted against the third reading.
 
The Act deprives the public of input but allows input from a limited list of organisations who will be given a very short period (10 days) on a proposal. For example only four environmental NGOs can be consulted on projects as of right (Schedule 6, clause 17(6)):
(n) Environmental Defence Society Incorporated; and
(o) Generation Zero Incorporated; and
(p) Greenpeace of New Zealand Incorporated; and
(u) Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Incorporated.

ECO can see no reason why the list in section 17(6) is not replaced by a general provision that any person or organisation can make a submission.  Limiting the groups will only lead to further poor decision making as key information is bound to be missed as it is likely to be in the hands of local people or varied experts.  There is no requirement to consult scientific expert bodies.
 
The Bill was complicated legislation which ran to 83 pages and 136 clauses and lessens environmental protections and enables fast tracking of projects with hugely damaging impacts.
 
The purpose of the Act (section 4) is very employment focused:
"The purpose of this Act is to urgently promote employment growth to support New Zealand’s recovery from the economic and social impacts of COVID-19 15 and to support the certainty of ongoing investment across New Zealand, while continuing to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources."

Surprisingly the employment focus is lost in the decision-making clauses in the Act. The problem for the Government is that infrastructure projects provide few jobs per dollar invested compared to many other projects or activities many that do not require RMA Consents.

The Minister for the Environment (combined with the Minister of Conservation for coastal projects) is the gatekeeper under the Bill deciding which projects get the green light and are referred to the fast track panel for approval on any designation and consent conditions. The flawed Environmental Protection Agency assists the panel. Members of the panel are appointed at the discretion of the Minister further politicising the decision making process.
 
The Act lacks major transparency provisions. There is no requirement for the Minister for the Environment to publish any proposed project application for fast-tracking. The Government has refused to release the list of projects that have been applied to become “shovel-ready” projects.
 
The Act is weak on climate change. It allows considerations of the impact of climate change on the project but not the impacts of the project on climate change.
 
The decision making provisions do not include consideration of the precautionary principle which should be standard in this legislation.

The information and environmental assessment requirements are less than those under the RMA. There is limited protection of threatened and endangered species and ecosystems.

The Minister for the Environment is the key gatekeeper for projects and also appoints the people to the decision making panels and also determines their term.  There is no requirement to hold a hearing.  It unclear what of this process is to be made public.

The Act also put in place very limited ability to appeal to the High Court and prohibits a final appeal to the Supreme Court.  There is no ability to appeal decisions of the Panel to the Environment Court.

The Act lists 11 projects (Schedule 2) which will be directly referred to fast-tracking panels.  These include an irrigation project near Kaikohe  (LP16) and further Auckland motorway expansion between Papakura and Drury (LP15).  There is no assessment of whether the projects will result in less greenhouse gas emissions and put us on a pathway to achieve greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The Government has refused to release the list of the other projects that might be considered once the Bill is passed or what criteria is being used to whittle down that list.  Over 1800 "shovel-ready" projects have been put up and amongst those suggested include mining projects, wetland drainage, and more roading projects.

The Act includes a list of permitted activities that NZ Transport Authority and KiwiRail will be allowed to carry out (Schedule 4). It enables some mangrove removal and dredging, and some removal of vegetation from significant natural areas and significant ecological areas.

Given the highly truncated process for comments there are sure to be flaws and omissions in the Bill.
 

Hector's and Māui dolphin Threat Management Plan - DoC and MPI

Department of Conservation and Fisheries New Zealand have consulted on changes to management and protection of Māui and Hector's dolphin.  Māui dolphins are critically endangered with about 63 dolphins remaining, and the Hector's Dolphin's is endangered and have declined to about 10,000 now.  A discussion document, with revised Threat Management Plan (TMP) has been released.

The proposals to extend the boundaries of the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary south to Wellington, and extending the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary to extend north to Kaikōura, south to Timaru, and offshore to 20 nautical miles.  In addition to threats from set nets and trawl nets, other threats are identified in the document, including seismic surveys, seabed mining, and toxoplasmosis, a disease which can affects dolphins and other marine mammals. 

ECO is disappointed in many of the elements of the plan. It still fails to come close to comprehensive protection and include the full range of measures that have been endorsed by the IUCN and by the International Whaling Commission.  Set nets and trawling should be prohibited out to 100m contour so that the dolphins have a chance to recover and do not become extinct.

The Hector’s dolphin measures do not get close to adequate protection.  There were few changes of substance to measures for the vulnerable populations south of Dunedin in the Catlins and Te Waewae Bay.  There are no measure in place to protect maui or Hector's dolphins on the East Coast of the North Island.

For copies of the review reports, workshops and stakeholder forums can be found here.