Following public outcry, New Zealand drops plan to mine protected areas

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
July 20, 2010



The New Zealand government has caved to public pressure, announcing that it is dropping all plans to mine in protected areas. The plan to open 7,000 hectares of protected areas to mining would have threatened a number of rare and endemic species, including two frogs that are prehistoric relics virtually unchanged from amphibian fossils 150 million years old: Archey's frog (Leiopelma archeyi) and Hochstetter's frog (Leiopelma hochstetteri).

In May 40,000 protestors marched in New Zealand against the government's plans, which the New Zealand Herald called the 'biggest [march] in a generation'. In addition, the government received over 37,000 submissions on the plan, most of which criticized the idea of removing protected area for mining.

Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee said "we heard that message loud and clear. Green Party co-leader MP Metiria Turei, who had fought the plan, told Voxy that the government's announcement was 'a victory for common sense'.

"You look after the things you love, and thousands of New Zealanders have reminded [Prime Minister] John Key of this simple truth over the last year. As a result, we've changed the agenda on mining in New Zealand," she added.

The New Zealand government also announced that it will create 14 new protected area, comprising 12,400 additional hectares.

Along with threatening a number of New Zealand's unique species, critics said the mining would imperil the nation's tourism industry which brings in around 21 billion dollar annually.

While the Archey's and Hochstetter's frogs are saved from mining they are still threatened by invasive species and the amphibian disease, chytridiomycosis which is responsible for over 100 extinctions in the last thirty years. Archey's frog is considered the world's number one amphibian in terms of evolutionary uniqueness and threat-level by the Zoological Society of London's program EDGE's.



For more on the issue: World's 'number one frog' faces extinction from New Zealand government.







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CITATION:
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (July 20, 2010).

Following public outcry, New Zealand drops plan to mine protected areas.

http://news.mongabay.com/2010/0720-hance_nz_mining.html