Monday, March 15, 2010

Government of orcs

Forest & Bird has leaked the government's plans for mining in national parks - and they're not pretty. The government plans to dig up parts of the Te Ahumata plateau on Great Barrier Island, which includes critical habitat for the endangered brown teal, as well as for plants found only on the island such as the Great Barrier Island tree daisy and the Great Barrier Island kanuka; the Otahu Ecological Area in Coromandel, recognised as “outstanding” by DoC and home to the threatened Hochstetter’s frog as well as rare native fish; other parts of the Coromandel peninsula; and part of the Paparoa National Park near Reefton, which is untouched forest. Contrary to the government's propaganda, these are not areas of low conservation value or farmland which just happens to be managed and protected by DoC. Rather, they are some of the most sensitive areas in New Zealand, home to some of our most endangered species.

Worse, the mining is not going to be "surgical":

Minerals targeted in the Government’s stocktake are found in low concentrations so open-cast mining – not “surgical” mining – is the most likely way to extract them. “In New Zealand, you get an average 3 grams of gold for every 1400 kilograms of rock that’s dug up. A mining company is not going to drill small, unobtrusive holes to process huge quantities of rock,” Kevin Hackwell says.

“In Paparoa National Park, for example, river terraces are being looked at. Open-cast mining is the only way to get at any coal or gold there,” he says.

So, the government's plan is to tear up some of our most beautiful and sensitive forest, and turn it into giant stinking pits. We're governed by orcs. Its the only way to describe them.

People are going to oppose this physically. Particularly in Coromandel, people use these areas for recreational purposes, and they will speak out and lie down in front of bulldozers to protect them. But there's another way to stop this as well: we have an election in 19 months. Change the government, change the policy...