New Zealanders will be left with a sad environmental legacy
if there is not the political will to prevent further
freshwater degradation, the New Zealand Freshwater Sciences
Its concern for the widespread decline of aquatic
biodiversity and water quality in New Zealand has led it for
the first time to release a united statement on behalf of its
members, following its annual meeting at the University of
Otago last week.
''Failure to act with decisiveness and urgency risks further
environmental degradation and erosion of our international
environmental reputation and branding,'' it said in the
statement backed by its members.
The possibilities of more waterborne illness, serious
contamination and depletion of groundwater aquifers, and
extinction of native fish species would depend on reversing
strong detrimental trends, it said.
Otherwise, New Zealanders would be left with a ''sad
environmental legacy and a serious financial burden'' from
the current generation.
''This will happen unless restoration costs needed to protect
and recover freshwater resources and invaluable ecosystem
services provided by freshwater are met with urgent,
Society president Prof David Hamilton, of the University of
Waikato, said despite those concerns its members also
believed there were examples, even in Otago and Canterbury,
where significant environmental improvements had been made
without compromising agricultural productivity.
''It can go hand in hand."
Communities were already bearing substantial costs in some
places to rectify the damage of intensive agriculture but
those could be reduced if best environmental practice was
used on farms.
''However critical the situation is, it is one that can be
resolved with best practice."
The society has made five recommendations urging further
action by the Government, including giving effect to the Land
and Water Forum's recommendations, requiring state of the
environment reporting and ensuring it was consistent, more
effective monitoring of invasive pests and more dedication to