April 19, 2018
Soil sacrificed for commodity boom
A new report by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics NZ has sounded the alarm about the loss of productive soils and of native plants and animals.
The Our Land 2018 report aims to track the positive and negative impacts of human activities over time and identify some of the key challenges.
It estimated 192 million tonnes of soil are lost every year from erosion, including 44 percent from pasture.
Towns and cities increased in size by 10 percent between 1996 and 2012 as valuable growing land was built over.
During the same period there was a net loss of 71,000 hectares of native land cover, and coastal and lowland habitats continued to reduce.
Nearly 83 percent of native birds, bats, reptiles, and frogs are classified as threatened or at risk of extinction.
Between 2002 and 2106 there was a 42 percent increase in the area of land used for dairy, a 20 percent decrease in area used for sheep and beef, and a shift to higher numbers of animals farmed per hectare.
Environment Ministry deputy secretary Penny Nelson says the report makes it clear that we need to pay attention to what’s going on in our soil, which underpins our economy.
Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague says the report shows what happens when the economy is directed towards low value commodity markets like milk powder, raw logs, and bulk tourism.
He says forests and wildlife are the country’s treasures and taonga for Maori.
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