Cellphone cameras a tool for 'dobbing in a digger'

Niall Watson
Niall Watson
Cellphone cameras could soon be used to gather evidence of environmentally damaging deeds in back-country Otago.

Otago Fish and Game Council chief executive Niall Watson said he was investigating the feasibility of a suggestion the council could establish a free phone number to enable concerned members of the public to send in photographs of unauthorised draining of wetlands or other environmental damage.

At last week's meeting, council member Adrian McIntyre said the Fish and Game Council should use cellphone and smart-phone technology and encourage people to provide photographic evidence of unauthorised draining of wetlands.

Often it was unclear exactly when a mechanical digger had been brought in and a small wetland drained, but many people had cellphones which could provide clear and decisive evidence, including for possible future prosecutions, Mr McIntyre said.

Another council member said this amounted to a "dob in a digger" scheme.

Mr Watson said although some regionally important wetland areas would enjoy protection under changes to the Otago Regional Council's water plan, there was growing concern about the continuing loss of other wetland areas which were also collectively significant, including as a water source for rivers.

In some cases, wetlands were being drained in order to pursue more intensive agriculture, including increased dairy farming, he said in an interview.

If people wished to enjoy the benefits of healthy rivers, wetlands needed to be protected, including through greater community awareness of the damage which draining them would cause, he said.

- john.gibb@odt.co.nz


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