Over the last eighteen months the New Zealand Conservation Authority has investigated the protection of rivers in New Zealand.
The paper ‘Protecting New Zealand’s Rivers’ sets out our analysis and conclusions. We have put forward some practical proposals for improving river protection and we want the Government and others with an interest in the country’s rivers to pick up these proposals. Some key conclusions are:
- New Zealand has a network of national parks and reserves to permanently protect the best of our landscapes but we have no similar system for permanently protecting the best of our rivers. We suggest a system of protected rivers be established This would provide an equivalent to our national park system, but for rivers.
A government agency should be given the responsibility to protect rivers.
- The use and development of our rivers is running ahead of their protection. The balance between use, development and protection of rivers needs to be corrected by increasing the emphasis upon protection.
- Our rivers are under increasing pressure from development and intensive agriculture – the water take has almost doubled in the past 10 years and at the same time water quality has fallen. Freshwater surveys show that many places are not safe to swim.
The time to act is now. The Conservation Authority fears that if steps are not taken to protect our best rivers we will lose them.
For more information www.doc.govt.nz/protectingnewzealandsrivers