The next five years need to be focused on the maintenance and enhancement of environmental services and on the anticipation of accelerated climate change.
The clear, unequivocal advocacy for biodiversity and ecosystems health by Ecan should be a top priority and this needs to be coordinated at the highest level.
We are coming to the end of the period of new infrastructure development.
Economic uncertainty the limitations of available water make new schemes very difficult to float.
The commissioners should encourage central government to produce a policy paper on biodiversity. There also needs to be a call to change the in stream nitrogen settings in the Fresh Water Policy. If invertebrates can’t survive, we certainly can’t.
The existing tools of the strategy (farm environment plans, good management practice and farm management plans) should be adjusted to further reduce pollution.
Immediate Steps funding should be increased.
The long fin eel recovery plan, when completed, should be applied rigorously because the eel, as the Regional Committee has recognised, is an environmental bell weather.
There should be much better linkage with key agencies such as LINZ, DoC and other environmental agencies - as well as volunteer groups and contractors - to coordinate in stream and riparian work.
Climate Change is like a runaway train coming down the track. We have already left the time of linear change and we are embarking on an era of exponential change.
There are some parallels with our attitude to dealing carbon emissions and nitrogen loss. In both cases we have set arbitrary base lines and then plan gradual reduction of emissions over time. There are legacy issues that apply to both scenarios, in the case of carbon there is a ten to fifteen year lag (we don’t know about nitrogen) so we are currently experiencing climatically what happened in the year 2000 and emissions all round have risen by 25% since then. In both cases we forget that the environment’s capacity to absorb more pollution is much reduced.
In any case it is methane which is going to see us off. I mean methane from the warming arctic not from ruminants.
The strategy looks out to 2040 so we should be looking at the consequences of less or no snow on the Alps. There will be less rain on the East coast and more on the West coast, some of which will be captured by the larger rivers with alpine catchments. This water will have to be managed for all – literally.
90% of the world’s population lives in the northern hemisphere and climate change will initially have its most devastating effect there. If we are lucky we may have a period of grace when irrigation will allow us to grow what is most needed – grain and vegetables.
So, to sum up, the next focus for the CWMS is environmental health and managing our water resource for all New Zealanders.