The Environment Aotearoa 2019 report released today shows why the Government’s plan to clean up our waterways and make New Zealand carbon-neutral is so crucial, Environment Minister David Parker said.
“The report contributes to our understanding of the impacts land use decisions are having – but there are no big surprises. We’ve known for years about the pollution and damage we’ve been causing to our oceans and freshwater, climate and biodiversity,” David Parker said.
The Government has work underway that will directly address many of the issues raised in today’s report.
Last year it released its Essential Freshwater plan to achieve a noticeable improvement in water quality in five years.
“That will take steps to stop further degradation of our waterways. They include controls on further intensification and on activities with a significant risk of contaminating waterways through pollutant losses, such as intensive winter grazing on forage crops,” David Parker said.
“The new rules will also address the loss of our wetlands. Since human habitation 90 per cent of our wetlands have been drained.”
Alongside that, Local Government and Associate Environment Minister Nanaia Mahuta is leading work to improve the management of drinking water, wastewater and storm water.
“New Zealanders are facing up to the reality and taking action, be it community groups, farmers groups or the school students who took to the streets over climate change,” David Parker said.
“This Government is delivering on public expectations that we will protect and restore our environment for this and future generations.”
Minister for Climate Change James Shaw said the report underlines the importance of the Government’s plan of action around climate change.
“The introduction of climate change legislation, establishing an independent climate change commission to guide emissions reductions, and the just transition to a low emissions economy are vital, as the evidence in this report shows.
“All the issues in this report are made worse by climate change and that is why this Government is so determined to take strong action on climate change,” James Shaw said.
“This is a critical year for us to start the shift towards sustainable practices across the board. This report on the health of the environment identifies and reinforces where the problems are,” David Parker said.
The report shows that our waterways are polluted in both farming and urban areas, with many rivers in both unsuitable for swimming.
“If, with all our advantages, New Zealand can’t overcome its environmental problems, then the world won’t,” David Parker said.