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Dairying And Clean Streams Accord Success Claims Exaggerated

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

23 June 2008 - Taranaki Regional Council, Fonterra and Federated Farmers have grossly exaggerated the success of the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord in Taranaki, Forest & Bird says.

"We are pleased that Taranaki Regional Council, Fonterra and Federated Farmers are emphasising the importance of riparian, or riverbank, planting and fencing in the Taranaki area but we want more action now," Forest & Bird Lower North Island Field Officer James Griffiths says.

Taranaki Regional Council chief executive Basil Chamberlain's statement that "40 per cent of the riparian work on ring plain waterways had been achieved" is misleading. Similarly, a statement by Fonterra's general manager of sustainable production, John Hutchings, that "Taranaki has made outstanding progress towards regional targets set by the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord and the environmental benefits have already become clear" is also inaccurate.

Many streams in the region have long been fenced to stop stock becoming trapped in deep gullies and ravines, which are common on the ring plain. An estimated 45 per cent of streams crossing farmland surrounding Mt Taranaki were fenced when the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord was signed in 2002.

Since 2002, stream fencing on dairy farms in the region has increased by an estimated 3 per cent, according to figures from Taranaki Regional Council's 2006/2007 report. At this rate of less than 1 per cent a year, farmers will take more than 40 years to reach the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord target of excluding stock from 90 per cent of streams, rivers and lakes by 2012. "This is no cause for celebration, but a time for action," Mr Griffiths says.

With the number of cows nearly doubling to almost half a million on Taranaki's ring plain over the past 15 years and water quality analysis indicating that nitrate levels have been rising, Forest & Bird urges farmers in the region to show a real commitment to reducing their environmental impact and to meeting the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord target of excluding stock from 90 per cent of streams, rivers and lakes by 2012.

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