One small victory for Archey's frog
Wednesday 21 July 2010
Threatened Amphibians are given a second chance for survival after the New Zealand Government bent to public will and halted plans for mining exploration in frog habitats.
The New Zealand Government is abandoning plans to mine 7000 hectares of land protected under Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act, including strongholds for two top priority EDGE Amphibians.
The change of plan came after the government received over 35.000 submissions on its discussion paper. According to Energy and Resource Minister Gerry Brownlee "The vast majority of submissions were focused on the proposal" and that "most of those submissions said we should not remove any land from Schedule 4. We heard that message loud and clear."
The areas of land that had been proposed for mineral excavation included several long-term frog monitoring sites representing some of the worlds best data on frog populations.
Species threatened by the proposal included top priority EDGE Amphibians Archy's frog (Leiopelma acheyi) and Hochsetter's frog (L. hochsetteri). Despite surviving several mass extinctions these prehistoric New Zealand natives are struggling for survival in a world rapidly shrinking due to human activity.
Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson said the government has further plans to add 14 new areas of land to Schedule 4 and that in the future all areas given a similar classification would automatically be bumped up to Schedule 4 status. As well as this, Mrs Wilkinson could also confirm that mining in New Zealands national parks would be "off the table" now and in the future.
This decision means that many decades of work to try and keep these frog species from becoming extinct have not been in vain. However, more work needs to be done in order to keep these vulnerable Amphibians from becoming extinct. To safeguard the species action will be required both within and beyond the protected areas.
Helen Meredith, EDGE of Existence amphibian conservation projects coordinator at ZSL responded to the good news by saying “The New Zealand frogs are ancient and irreplaceable, representing New Zealand’s only amphibian fauna. The decision not to mine in important conservation land for Archey’s frog and Hochstetter’s frog will help these incredible amphibians to continue their great story of survival – 130 million years and counting! This is a great day for conservation – we are so happy that the New Zealand government took on board the overwhelming support to maintain these protected areas into the future.”