A new strategy for mangrove management on the Coromandel Peninsula has been agreed with the signing of a new Statement of Intent (SOI) between Thames-Coromandel District Council and Waikato Regional Council.
Use of a resource consent to clear mangroves at Whangamata was paused last year and has remained so while the SOI and a joint action plan were developed. The new strategy is more relevant to the future management of mangroves at the Whangamata site and others around the Coromandel. The joint action plan includes the possibility of an early review of the mangrove management component of the Waikato Regional Coastal Plan.
“The SOI and action plan give effect to a shared responsibility approach to moving forward on mangrove management on the peninsula,” said regional council chief executive Vaughan Payne.
The background to the development of the SOI and action plan was that it was determined last year that the removal of the remaining 11 of 22 hectares of mangroves at Whangamata would not be able to be resumed at present. This was due to monitoring showing that the removal process was not meeting conditions in the regional council’s resource consent allowing removal.
Work is currently underway by the regional council to review monitoring reports and then either confirm continuation of the pause on mangrove removal or proceed with further mangrove clearance under the consent.
However, irrespective of whether mangrove removal at Whangamata is resumed under the current consent or not, the implementation of the SOI will proceed. The key element of the SOI is the development of policy settings for a whole-of-Coromandel approach to mangrove management.
“The SOI will be used as a basis for helping decide where to from here at Whangamata and elsewhere,” Mr Payne said.
Both the regional and district councils are committed to working together with the local community, iwi and key stakeholders at Whangamata and on other sites around the district that may be suitable for mangrove removal and on where mangroves should remain untouched.
“Mangrove management has been, and will continue to be, a complex issue. By taking this collaborative approach, the councils believe an SOI will provide a way to ensure even tighter integration of the work of the various parties involved,” said Thames-Coromandel District chief executive, Rob Williams.
“We’re pleased we’re able to work closely with Waikato Regional Council on progressing solutions to mangrove management in Whangamata and elsewhere in the Coromandel.”
Mr Payne said the regional council has sought to manage the mangrove removal programme efficiently and within budget, but it has consumed a huge amount of staff time and council resources, above what was expected.
“The councils acknowledge the frustration delays have caused in the community. It’s a frustration shared by the councils as well,” Mr Payne said.