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Report highlights Government’s failure to protect rivers and native species

The inaugural Environment Aotearoa report highlights the major shortfalls in the Government’s environmental management, and must lead to urgent action to protect our indigenous wildlife, rivers, and seas, the Green Party said today.

"The Government’s hands-off approach to environmental  protection is a major reason for the fact that 66% of monitored river sites are no longer safe to swim in and the precarious positions of many of our native seabirds and marine mammals," said Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“Our native plants, wildlife, rivers are worth saving, and it’s time for the Government to stop taking the back seat and start actively leading to keep the place and creatures we love safe.

“While John Key is off acquiring Chinese pandas, eight of our 30 indigenous marine mammals back home are now threatened with extinction.

“Ninety percent of our indigenous seabirds are threatened by or at risk of extinction. If the Government cares about saving them, it needs to take action to protect them.

“Environment officials highlight the biggest concerns for the environment are due to dairy intensification, something the Government has shown no interest in doing anything about.

“The Government is putting agribusiness interests and growth in dairying ahead of a healthy environment.

“The report reveals the shocking extent of nitrogen in our rivers. Total nitrogen levels in rivers increased 12 percent since 1989, with 60 percent of monitored sites showing statistically significant increases.

“Half of the monitored river sites have enough nitrogen to trigger potentially toxic algal blooms.

“The Green Party wants a future where we can swim in our rivers, and where the status of all of our threatened species and the quality of their habitats is improving.

“What we need to see from the Government is a commitment to stop subsidising dairy intensification and to strengthen water standards so that it’s safe for people and wildlife to swim in our rivers.

“We need a much greater investment in pest control on conservation lands and beyond.

“We also want to see a commitment to establishing effective deep sea marine protected areas and ocean sanctuaries to protect marine habitats, and a National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management that actually ensures the water is fresh.

“The message in this report is clear: our mammals, our rivers, and our environment are suffering because the Government refuses to step up,” said Ms Sage.