Coastal wetlands remained high and dry under ministry proposals

The Environmental Defense Society has filed its brief on the Department of the Environment’s regulations on coastal wetlands and says the Department’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) (NES-F) Regulations 2020 sets national direction to protect and enhance wetlands and halt the loss of their values,” said the EDS COO Shay Schlaepfer.

“The NES-F was clearly intended to apply to inland and coastal wetlands. The ministry is now proposing a policy reversal and wants to exclude coastal wetlands from regulation.

“This approach is totally unjustified. Coastal wetlands can be mapped, so there is no reason not to include them. The ESS-F is a framework of rules that integrates national wetland policy and provides a consistent approach to wetland management across all areas.

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

“The department is also seeking to exempt certain activities from the consent pathways set out in the NES-F. These activities can negatively affect coastal wetlands and should be subject to regulation.

“Wetlands are one of the country’s most valuable ecosystems. They have suffered great losses with over 90% of them destroyed since human occupation. Many of those remaining are in seriously degraded condition. The approach proposed by the department will only continue this decline.

“This cannot happen and we urge the department to think again,” Ms Schlaepfer concluded.

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