Deforestation equals Downstream Degradation

Friday 3 April 2009, 2:51PM
By Green Party

Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty today urged for more planting of forests to protect communities and the environment on the East Coast of the North Island.

“The international research on the effects of storms and earthquakes shows that human mismanagement of landscape, namely deforestation, continues to be a huge issue for Te Tairawhiti”, said Green Forestry Spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.

Ms Delahunty was commenting on the research discussed at a conference on storms and earthquakes in Gisborne this week.

A study of the Waipaoa River near Gisborne shows that the river contributes an average of 4100 truckloads of mud into the ocean each day. The other river studied over the ten year period was the Fly River in Papua New Guinea, which contributes a staggering 27,000 truckloads per day.

Ms Delahunty said, “Both are examples of appalling catchment mismanagement. The mining in the Fly River catchment has created environmental and social chaos for downstream communities and ecosystems, including impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.

“The deforestation of our own Waipaoa means that the next Cyclone Bola has the potential to add to the damage already done in the past.

“Without a concerted and permanent reforestation of the eroding hillsides, and fencing and planting of the river margins, we will be at increased risk of disastrous floods events on the plains and in the ocean.

“Scientists warn us that climate change will only intensify extreme weather events like cyclones, and we must plant permanent forests to mitigate its effects”.

Ms Delahunty said that the findings of the international research on the Waipaoa catchment are no surprise and signal the need for a co-operative regional effort to reduce erosion.

“The East Coast Forestry project was a response to Cyclone Bola but the issue is still with us and requires a new urgency. The Green Party is promoting a Green New Deal including the creation of jobs in sustainable forestry as part of the solution to both unemployment and soil erosion.

“We provided these ideas to the Government’s Job Summit in February, but unlike the United States and the United Nations, our Government is yet to connect the dots and realise that investment in things like reforestation can solve both economic and environmental crises at the same time.”