Is New Zealand’s clean green image under threat from dirty dairying or is the agriculture industry getting a bad rap for New Zealand’s lack of monitoring and policy making?
Clean Green Solutions
Clean Stream Accord
Resource Management Act 1991
Sustainable Water Programme of Action
Figure 1 Land Use in New Zealand 2004. Data Source: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Figure 2 Median Nitrate levels in river water: Nutrient trends in rivers in the national monitoring network, 1989–2005
In just over 100 years New Zealand has gone from a country covered in natural bush to a farming nation covered in exotic grasses. Although our population is increasing a large majority of these people have been populating the cities. Few seem concerned that the previously diverse range of environments has been reduced to simplified and highly regulated farm land. There has been a drive towards agricultural intensification to produce more milk, wool, meat and crops from the same area of land. Farmers have increased production on these lands through new technologies and using more water and fertilisers. In 2004 Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment issued a report “Growing for Good”, it found that intensified farming was causing many environmental problems; including declining water quality in many areas, large amounts of eroding land and a growth in demand for irrigation water appeared to be unsustainable in some regions. This report outlines the above environmental effects and some solutions that have been introduced to lessen the effects of intensified agricultural practices in New Zealand.
Is New Zealand’s clean green image under threat from dirty dairying? According to the following two quotes New Zealand’s environment is some of the worst in the world in regards to pollution and biodiversity. “Polluters such as the agricultural industry were following voluntary measures such as the Clean Streams Accord.”If we're serious about cleaning up waterways, we have to adopt real standards and impose them. The voluntary model is completely flawed”, as stated by Green Party co-leader Russell Norman Mike Joy wrote an article in the New Zealand Herald (25/04/2011) entitled “the dying myth of a clean, green Aotearoa”. In this article he mentions that we were among the worst in the world for biodiversity. We have drained 90% of our wetlands and removed 70% of our native forests and engineered most of our rivers to suit our needs. He also mentions that half our lakes and 90% of our lowland rivers are classed as polluted. Have these two gentleman got it right about the New Zealand agriculture sector or are they just trying to further their careers, with political manoeuvring?
Agriculture in New Zealand is the largest sector of the tradable economy, contributing about two-thirds of exported goods in 2006-7; it is also one of the largest sectors causing environmental impacts. Dairy farming in New Zealand began from small beginnings during the early days of colonization by Europeans. The income from dairy farming is now a major part of the New Zealand economy, becoming an NZ$11 billion industry by 2010. Due to New Zealand’s location at 33° and 47° our climate has been ideal for agriculture. Almost all of the animals, trees and grasses are exotic to New Zealand. We are perhaps one of the most modified countries in the world, 65% of the land has been cultivated from its original state Early Maori settlers had adopted slash and burn practices to clear native lands to grow their crops...
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