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Coastal wetlands left high and dry under Ministry proposals

22 September 2022

The Environmental Defence Society has filed its submission on the Ministry for the Environment’s regulations on coastal wetlands and says that the Ministry’s approach undermines the original intent of the regulations and leaves coastal wetlands vulnerable to future degradation.

“The Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Freshwater) Regulations 2020 (NES-F) set national direction to protect and improve wetlands and put a stop to further loss of their values”, said EDS COO Shay Schlaepfer.

“The NES-F was clearly intended to apply to both inland and coastal wetlands. The Ministry is now proposing a policy U-turn and wants to exclude coastal wetlands from the regulations.

“This approach is totally unjustified. Coastal wetlands are capable of being mapped so there is no reason why they should not be included. The NES-F is a rules framework that integrates national policy relating to wetlands and provides a consistent approach to wetland management across all domains.

“Removing coastal wetlands from the NES-F will leave a gap in their management and protection at the national level and leave too much discretion with regional councils.

“The Ministry also seeks to exempt certain activities from the consenting pathways set out in the NES-F. These activities have the potential to adversely affect coastal wetlands and should be subject to the regulations.

“Wetlands are one of the country’s most valuable ecosystems. They have undergone extensive loss with over 90% of them destroyed since human occupation. Many of those that remain are in a severely degraded state. The Ministry’s proposed approach will only serve to further continue this decline.

“This cannot be allowed to occur and we urge the Ministry  to think again,” Ms Schlaepfer concluded.

The EDS submission is available here.

More: Shay Schlaepfer 027 946 8079  shay@eds.org.nz