The release today of Environment Aotearoa 2022 is a sobering reminder of what is at stake if the Government does not step up and take urgent action to protect Aotearoa New Zealand’s native plants, wildlife, habitats and ecosystems.
“There can be no excuses now. Urgent action is needed to pull our natural environment back from the brink and protect our native species, forests, rivers and oceans for present and future generations,” says Eugenie Sage, the Green Party’s environment spokesperson.
“Healthy nature is the basis of our collective wellbeing. To be able to look after each other, we need to look after and connect with Te Taiao first. The latest State of the Environment report shows that has not been happening to anything like the extend that it needs to.
“The environmental crisis is directly linked to the inequality crisis in Aotearoa. The report shows that low income people have less access to greenspace and their many wellbeing benefits. In fact, as the report shows, public greenspace in urban areas is low compared to Europe. As we shift to low-emissions cities, we must protect urban trees, create new pocket parks, and promote green infrastructure.
“In nearly every case, the report highlights the importance of the work that the Greens, as well as iwi and hapū, community organisations, landholders, councils and others, are doing to give nature a helping hand.
“For a start, the Green Party’s call on the Government to ban bottom trawling on sea mounts is now long overdue. Today’s report highlights that this harmful practice is shown to be damaging the seabed and its habitats. Even after trawling stops, ecosystems can remain damaged and show few signs of recovery for long periods of time.
“Our call on the Government to ban mining on conservation land is more important than ever. Three out of four frog species are also at risk of extinction, including the Archey’s Frog, which is at immediate risk due to potential mining activities in Coromandel .
“We can also see a decline in ocean health, which confirms why comprehensive reform of the Marine Reserves Act and new marine protected areas legislation, which includes our Exclusive Economic Zone, is also a high priority for the Green Party.
“In short, the State of the Environment Report shows New Zealand is losing its rare and indigenous species and ecosystems at an alarming rate. We know how to reverse this, and need to act now.
“Ninety percent of seabirds; 94 percent of reptile species; and 74 percent of terrestrial bird species are threatened with extinction or at risk of becoming threatened. Altogether nearly 4000 of our native species are in trouble – and it is expected to get even worse. This is simply unacceptable.
“For decades politicians have known that an environmental catastrophe was unfolding. Successive Governments had the chance to stop it. But they didn’t. And so now it falls to this Government.
“It is time to accelerate efforts to protect the environment and to meet the scale of the crisis with the urgency it demands,” says Eugenie Sage.