Environment Hui tackles 'environment vs economy'

SHAPED BY THE LAND: The Tairawhiti Enviro Hui involved a series of talks and presentations by environmental and conservation thinkers, including Department of Conservation ranger Graeme Atkins, Hikurangi Enterprises project manager Manu Caddie, Nga Whenua Rahui solutions co-ordinator and event organiser Krystal Philips, and RNZ journalist Alison Ballance. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell

CONSERVATION leaders are calling for a mindset change over the relationship between economic development and the environment.

Speaking during a panel discussion at Tairawhiti Enviro Hui: Shaped by the Land, Department of Conservation East Coast operations manager John Lucas said the mindset of “one or the other” had to change.

“That kind of thing needs to happen on the East Coast, to reduce the impact of the large-scale removal of vegetation, which has had catastrophic impacts, right down to the marine environment.”

One positive example was the protection of kanuka.

“It used to be seen as scrub, with no value, but as a result of various economic developments it now has value.

“We are starting to demonstrate we can have economic benefits and good land use.”

He was encouraged by the attention given to the state of the environment in the recent election.

“For one of the first elections in my lifetime, the state of the environment was front and centre.

“When everybody is concerned and demanding change, change will occur.”

The impacts of pests in areas like the Waiapu catchment was one of the biggest challenges. However, the predator-free 2050 movement showed promise to turn that around.

“The predator free idea seems to have galvanised the country.”

Nga Whenua Rahui business analyst Roland Pomana said economic development and looking after the environment could “work hand in hand”.

There needed to be more education to reach Maori communities to help with pest management and conservation in the district.

Hikurangi Enterprises project manager Manu Caddie said some of the biggest opportunities were in native forest regeneration. Their Ruatoria-based charitable company was developing extracts from native plants, including kanuka, and also looking into carbon farming.

“Coupled with carbon markets there are real opportunities to transfer pine and farm into indigenous forest,” Mr Caddie said.

“The onus is on us to create such industry here. We see huge potential.”

Alternative proteins and lab-grown meat

Mr Caddie said the rise of alternative proteins and lab-grown meat was making traditional farming increasingly marginal.

Gisborne District Council environmental and science manager Lois Easton said “strides” could be made focusing on improving water quality at catchment levels.

Actions like riparian planting had additional benefits, including improving biodiversity.

While Gisborne was not a wealthy community, many people around the region were doing great things.

“For many of the things we need to do, money is great, but what we need is people deciding to take action.”

Panellists were asked what they thought of the Government’s plan to plant one billion trees, and how much more radiata pine the region could handle.

Ms Easton said the question needed to be more about what type of forestry, rather than the place of forestry.
About 20 percent of the district was in pine plantation, she said.

“I think that's enough. But there's an opportunity for other types of forestry. We need to move out of the mindset of low-value, short-rotation species.

“By investing in indigenous hardwood species, we get biodiversity and land stability benefits as well. We need to be smarter with what we are doing.”

Another question was about the conservation opportunities in a post-treaty settlement environment.

Ms Easton said she was excited about the intersection of matauranga Maori (knowledge) and western science.

“Settlements have enabled iwi to build capacity and engage in a way that has not been possible in the past. It is a really exciting future.”

Mr Lucas said it was an extremely exciting phase.

“We have a high proportion of Maori in the district, and a high proportion with strong links to the whenua, awa.

“There is a lot of commonality with our treaty partners.”

The public hui at the Dome involved a series of talks by some of the field’s sharpest thinkers, exploring the relationship between economic development and te taiao (environment), and the unique ecology and biodiversity of Tairawhiti.

RNZ journalist Alison Ballance, the science-focused programme “Our Changing World” presenter, delivered the keynote speech, while other presentations covered flora and fauna of Tairawhiti and various projects, including those the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group in Mahia.

Organisers are looking to make the hui an annual event.

What species would you most like to see back in abundance in Tairawhiti?

  • Malcolm Rutherford (QEII National Trust): “Kakapo, because, why not?”
  • Lois Easton (GDC): “Weka. They used to be one of the iconic things in Gisborne.”
  • John Lucas (DoC): “Kokako. It would be pretty special.”
  • Manu Caddie (Hikurangi Enterprises): “There are some pretty clever scientists coming through, and I think the moa has some potential.”
  • Roland Pomana (Nga Whenua Rahui): “Kokako.”
  • Alison Ballance (RNZ): “To have tuna back in all of the streams.”

CONSERVATION leaders are calling for a mindset change over the relationship between economic development and the environment.

Speaking during a panel discussion at Tairawhiti Enviro Hui: Shaped by the Land, Department of Conservation East Coast operations manager John Lucas said the mindset of “one or the other” had to change.

“That kind of thing needs to happen on the East Coast, to reduce the impact of the large-scale removal of vegetation, which has had catastrophic impacts, right down to the marine environment.”

One positive example was the protection of kanuka.

“It used to be seen as scrub, with no value, but as a result of various economic developments it now has value.

“We are starting to demonstrate we can have economic benefits and good land use.”

He was encouraged by the attention given to the state of the environment in the recent election.

“For one of the first elections in my lifetime, the state of the environment was front and centre.

“When everybody is concerned and demanding change, change will occur.”

The impacts of pests in areas like the Waiapu catchment was one of the biggest challenges. However, the predator-free 2050 movement showed promise to turn that around.

“The predator free idea seems to have galvanised the country.”

Nga Whenua Rahui business analyst Roland Pomana said economic development and looking after the environment could “work hand in hand”.

There needed to be more education to reach Maori communities to help with pest management and conservation in the district.

Hikurangi Enterprises project manager Manu Caddie said some of the biggest opportunities were in native forest regeneration. Their Ruatoria-based charitable company was developing extracts from native plants, including kanuka, and also looking into carbon farming.

“Coupled with carbon markets there are real opportunities to transfer pine and farm into indigenous forest,” Mr Caddie said.

“The onus is on us to create such industry here. We see huge potential.”

Alternative proteins and lab-grown meat

Mr Caddie said the rise of alternative proteins and lab-grown meat was making traditional farming increasingly marginal.

Gisborne District Council environmental and science manager Lois Easton said “strides” could be made focusing on improving water quality at catchment levels.

Actions like riparian planting had additional benefits, including improving biodiversity.

While Gisborne was not a wealthy community, many people around the region were doing great things.

“For many of the things we need to do, money is great, but what we need is people deciding to take action.”

Panellists were asked what they thought of the Government’s plan to plant one billion trees, and how much more radiata pine the region could handle.

Ms Easton said the question needed to be more about what type of forestry, rather than the place of forestry.
About 20 percent of the district was in pine plantation, she said.

“I think that's enough. But there's an opportunity for other types of forestry. We need to move out of the mindset of low-value, short-rotation species.

“By investing in indigenous hardwood species, we get biodiversity and land stability benefits as well. We need to be smarter with what we are doing.”

Another question was about the conservation opportunities in a post-treaty settlement environment.

Ms Easton said she was excited about the intersection of matauranga Maori (knowledge) and western science.

“Settlements have enabled iwi to build capacity and engage in a way that has not been possible in the past. It is a really exciting future.”

Mr Lucas said it was an extremely exciting phase.

“We have a high proportion of Maori in the district, and a high proportion with strong links to the whenua, awa.

“There is a lot of commonality with our treaty partners.”

The public hui at the Dome involved a series of talks by some of the field’s sharpest thinkers, exploring the relationship between economic development and te taiao (environment), and the unique ecology and biodiversity of Tairawhiti.

RNZ journalist Alison Ballance, the science-focused programme “Our Changing World” presenter, delivered the keynote speech, while other presentations covered flora and fauna of Tairawhiti and various projects, including those the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group in Mahia.

Organisers are looking to make the hui an annual event.

What species would you most like to see back in abundance in Tairawhiti?

  • Malcolm Rutherford (QEII National Trust): “Kakapo, because, why not?”
  • Lois Easton (GDC): “Weka. They used to be one of the iconic things in Gisborne.”
  • John Lucas (DoC): “Kokako. It would be pretty special.”
  • Manu Caddie (Hikurangi Enterprises): “There are some pretty clever scientists coming through, and I think the moa has some potential.”
  • Roland Pomana (Nga Whenua Rahui): “Kokako.”
  • Alison Ballance (RNZ): “To have tuna back in all of the streams.”

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