17 October 1999
Action needed to secure future of migratory birds
Contact: Kevin Smith phone 04 385-7374 work or 04 934-2473 home
An action plan to secure the future of New Zealand's migratory seabirds was presented to the Welcome Back the Birds
gathering at Miranda near Thames on Sunday.
Speaking at the Miranda Naturalists Trust gathering, attended by over 150 people, the Conservation Director of the
Forest and Bird Protection Society, Kevin Smith, described the annual migration of over 150,000 wading birds from
Siberia to Alaska as one of the world's great wildlife events.
But he warned that though the godwits, knots, curlews and other waders had survived the rigors of the 20th century this
did not guarantee their survival in the 21st century.
"Intensive development along many New Zealand coastlines is leaving coastal birds with fewer of the quiet estuaries and
coastal areas essential for their survival."
Mr Smith said coastal subdivisions, marinas, marine farming and sheer people pressure were reducing the areas of optimal
Key proposals in Forest and Bird's migratory wader action plan included legal protection for the major estuaries as
marine reserves, marine parks or taiapure, and major amendments to the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Bill to give priority to
habitat and wildlife protection.
Mr Smith said the Ministry for the Environment and the Department of Conservation needed to be resourced and directed to
play more pro-active roles in Resource Management Act processes to defend New Zealand's coastlines from harmful
"Pressure from some politicians for DoC to be restricted or prevented from undertaking conservation advocacy outside
existing parks and reserves would leave them unable to defend the migratory waders. Most of these birds spend virtually
their whole time in New Zealand each year outside established reserves."
"The threats to estuaries include poor management of adjacent catchment areas resulting in pollution and excessive
Forest and Bird believed New Zealand also needed to take a leading role in persuading Japan, Korea and China to protect
their coastal wetlands as these were vital feeding areas on the waders' Asian-Pacific flyway.