The following letter was sent out to residents of the Northern Buller district regarding proposed resource consent application by the “Department of Conservation” to permit the government body to aerially poison 113, 699 hectares of the Kahurangi National Park. The letter invited comment…below is mine.
Letter from Department of Conservation Regarding Resource Consent Application for Proposed 1080 Poison Operation
Response to Department of Conservation by Paul Murray: Karamea Business OwnerPaul Murray Iltamara Ltd 21 Wharf Road P.O. Box 54 Karamea, 7864 NEW ZEALAND Ph: 03-7826-XXX E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org May 18, 2012 Mr Martin Abel Buller Kawatiri Area Office P.O. Box 357 Westport 7866 NEW ZEALAND Ph: 03-788-8008
Re: RESOURCE CONSENT APPLICATION FOR AERIAL APPLICATION OF 1080, WESTERN KAHURANGI AREA
I received a letter from Buller Kawatiri Area Manager Scott Freeman on May 17, 2013 (letter dated May 1) regarding the application by the Department of Conservation (DOC) for a resource consent to conduct an aerial 1080 poison operation covering 113,699 hectares in the Western Kahurangi area.
The letter invited me to raise issue with the resource consent application by contacting you. I have numerous concerns about the proposed aerial 1080 poison and have a number of questions for you regarding the drop.
I am a Karamea tourism business operator. I also have a permaculture farm in the region that has been pesticide free for eight years.
I feel that the proposed 1080 operation by the DOC will compromise both the marketing strategy for my tourism businesses and also the pesticide-free status of my permaculture farm.
I also own and maintain a Web site promoting the Heaphy Track (www.heaphytrack.com) and administer a FaceBook page for the Heaphy Track (https://www.facebook.com/HeaphyTrack). I am also a member of the Karamea Estuary Enhancement Project (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Karamea-Estuary-Enhancement-Project-KEEP/229300180441656) I actively support DOC activities in the Kahurangi National Park as evidenced by my involvement in promoting DOC facilities and projects in the region. I also support pest-specific possum control initiatives conducted by DOC and the Animal Health Board in the Kahurangi, but strongly oppose the broad-scale, indiscriminate broadcasting of 1080 pesticide over a vast region of the park as I consider it:
- A threat to the quality of life for myself and my family
- Raises health concerns for myself and my family
- Has a serious negative impact on my business activities in Karamea
- Violates the nation’s “Clean Green/100%Pure” brand that is used to promote New Zealand internationally.
- Compromises my efforts to maintain a pesticide-free permaculture farm
Myself and many other Karamea residents publically opposed the aerial 1080 operation conducted in the Kahurangi National Park by the Animal Heath Board in 2008 and my position and that of the other residents on the issue has not changed. We find aerial 1080 pesticide operations to be an unacceptable solution to possum control and evidence suggests it creates a raft of other problems in the forest.
Scientific studies show that rat populations explode after aerial 1080 operations and that was certainly the observation of people living in Karamea following the 2008 poison programme and rat numbers in and around the town are still high in my experience. Prior to the 2008 1080 poisoning, I hadn’t seen a rat in the town, however, soon after the aerial pesticide operation, rats began to invade our homes and businesses. It’s ironic that the rats you say are one of the targets of the proposed 1080 programme are resultant from the last poison operation.
Poisoning vast areas of the national park leads to an elevation in rat numbers in the poison zone. Rats quickly repopulate the poisoned forest and come into an area devoid of predators and with an abundant food supply and their numbers are shown to surpass population levels that existed in the area prior to the pest-control operation. This is supported by scientific evidence in a study published in the Landcare Research Kararehe Kino vertebrate pest research report (December 2008).
Following the experience of the 2008 Animal Health Board (AHB) drop and the associated negative impact on and restriction to my business trade, I request DOC give me advanced notice of any scheduled similar aerial 1080 poison operations in the Kahurangi National Park so I can inform all potential customers that my business will be closed for the duration of the programme and for at least one month following to ensure all risk associated with the baits has passed and the pesticide has broken down in the soil to “harmless by-products,” or until all green baits have decomposed. I consider this the only responsible action I can take to protect the reputation of my business, honour my marketing strategy––in which I actively invite people from all over the world to visit the pristine, pure, clean, green and scenically beautiful environment in the Karamea region––and prevent the risk of possible exposure to the poison of guests staying at my accommodation facilities and utilising my transport service.
I have established good standing as a professional eco-tourism operator over the past 10 years and I consider that the proposed aerial 1080 operation is a serious threat to that hard-earned reputation. If my business continues to host guests during and immediately after the 1080 poison programme, I risk my business marketing strategy being considered specious and hypocritical given that they way I promote my business is contrary to inviting people to come and visit a poisoned forest.
There will be a significant financial loss incurred by my business by closing for which I reasonably expect to be compensated. Would you please provide me with information as to how I might file a business compensation claim with the Department of Conservation so that I might recover the losses incurred resulting from the interruption to my business and restriction to trade?
I also intend to offer my incapacitated accommodation facilities to domestic and international journalists and documentary filmmakers for free during the period of the drop and beyond so that they might have and opportunity to cover the programme thoroughly and report on the impact the DOC-sponsored poison operation has on the people of Karamea and the ecology of the Kahurangi National Park.
I also have several questions ahead of the application for resource consent to conduct this unprecedentedly large pesticide programme in the Western Kahurangi area.
- Have accurate monitoring procedures been conducted to determine possum and rat numbers and native non-target species populations in the proposed drop zone?
- Will ongoing monitoring procedures be conducted after the 1080 poisoning and throughout the life of the consent to determine the efficacy of the pesticide operation and gauge the extent of the loss of native birds, invertebrates, insects and aquatic life (non-target species) and the long-term impact on the populations of pests and non-target species in the consent area?
- Will DOC monitor of water quality in the poison zone following 1080 drops to measure possible contamination of water resources in the area throughout the life of the consent?
- What is the projected cost of the operation over the life of the consent?
- Given that the Medical Officer of Health, the West Coast Regional Council and DOC are likely to rubber stamp the application as they have done with similar applications in the past, what is the “local authority” mentioned in the letter I received and which Iwi is relevant to this application process?
- If the Buller District Council, Iwi or any of the other consent-issuing authorities oppose the resource consent application, does this mean the application will not be granted?
- What contingency plan does DOC have to mitigate the potential negative effects of the 10-year poison programme on local tourism?
- How soon would DOC expect the consent, if approved, to be issued?
- If the consent is granted, does this mean that the AHB will not be permitted to also conduct 1080 poison operations in the consented area?
- Is DOC lodging similar resource consent applications for the Northern, Eastern and Southern regions of the Kahurangi National Park?
- Does DOC have a strategy to handle the possibility of human poisoning, or the poisoning of domestic pets resulting from the pesticide operation?
- Will local contactors be employed to conduct the poison programme?
- Has the information I received been sent out to all residents of the Northern Buller region? If not, on what basis were selected individuals or organisations notified about DOC’s intention to apply for this resource consent?
- Is this consent application going to result in a 2013 drop across the entire area listed in the application, or just in specific areas of the consent region?
- How does DOC intend to notify the public of the extent, location and timing of drops during the life of this consent if granted?
- Given the unprecedented scope of this resource consent application and the open-ended, long-term and general nature of the consent, how can the public object to the application and its terms and conditions?
I am not opposed to pest-control and appreciate that national park management is a considerable challenge for DOC, but ask that any pesticide use specifically target the pest in question. I strongly oppose broad-scale indiscriminate aerial poisoning of vast regions of DOC administered land in the name of New Zealand and New Zealanders. I appreciate your consideration of the issues I have raised and hope to receive a full response to the questions I have asked in this letter. Should you have any questions, or require more information, please e-mail, or call me any time.
(Managing Director Iltamara Ltd)