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Balance needed in mangrove debate

A balance between ecological values and the use of harbours needs to be struck in deciding on the future of mangroves in Waikato estuaries, according to Environment Waikato Councillor Evan Penny.

Cr Penny said on one hand the Council was facing the runaway expansion of mangroves in the Region’s estuaries and on the other, mounting pressure for recreational use and improved aesthetics in coastal areas.

“We have billions of dollars in coastal real estate built for lifestyle in these areas and on the other hand a national recognition of the ecological value of mangroves. Environment Waikato has led the charge in getting research done on what is causing this expansion of mangroves and we are slowly finding out that nutrients from land use is playing a role.

“We are facing pressure to allow more intensive use of harbours for activities such as marinas and there is a limit to the capacity for pole and swing moorings.”

Cr Penny said the Council had taken a strictly regulatory approach until now, but needed definitive answers from scientists and community consultation on such issues as marinas, shellfish gathering, recreational and cultural uses to provide clarity for both the use and protection of estuaries.

“The New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement is due for a review and Environment Waikato should be thinking about a submission to get a clearer view from Government about how we are going to forge this balance.”

He said Environment Waikato had met with the New Zealand Forest and Bird Society which had presented their national policy and principles on mangroves, which were incorporated into the basis for further discussion in planning for the management of mangroves.

“Their principles are broadly consistent with the approach the Regional Council has taken to mangrove management – they are not sacred but they are important to ecology and have to be recognised and taken into account in our planning.”

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