Our critically endangered bats need a hand, not a chainsaw

Submitted by webadmin on

Extinct within our lifetime?

Click on news room page, for a media release sent out regarding the population of the nationally critically endangered species of bat, the South Island long-tailed bat, that has been identified as at risk from the monorail and maintenance road proposal currently being considered by the Minister of Conservation, Dr Nick Smith.

With the release, is a bat field survey we commissioned that took place during spring 2013 in just one area of the Snowdon Forest. You can download it from our download page. It is currently being peer reviewed.

This field report was done to gather further data to add to the results of the 2009 Spring Survey completed by Mitchell Partnerships for Riverstone Holdings concession application. That survey identified the existence of chalinolobus tuberculatus "South Island" but was criticised as being superficial by the 2010 Wildlands' independent audit commissioned by DOC, a report that was not made available at the time of submissions - also on our download page.

The 2013 field report we commissioned has been sent to the World Heritage Committee, to regional and national Department of Conservation bat experts, to the current Southland Conservator, Alan Munn, to the Director-General of Conservation, Lou Sanson, and to the Minister of Conservation, Dr Nick Smith. Smith's office said he could not accept it because it was outside the submission process.

The Minister is currently considering further technical advice:

  • a financial viability report and, we understand,
  • a biodiversity report and
  • a landscape report,

the latter two being extra work asked for by the World Heritage Committee in relation to the impacts on the SOUV (Statement of Outstanding Universal Value) given it is World Heritage country.

We also understand that the Hearing Commissioner did not have those reports at the time of writing his report to the decision maker. Excerpt from page 99 in which he states (contrary to what has been commonly reported) that because he could not seek further technical advice, he therefore could not recommend either accepting or declining the concession:

Overall Recommendation pursuant to section 49 2(d) of the Conservation Act 1987

Because it is beyond my ability as (delegate of) the Director General under section 49 of the Conservation Act 1987 to seek further specialist technical advice around proposed concession conditions I am unable to make a single recommendation to you as to whether or not, in my view, the concession could be granted. My recommendation to you therefore is that you:

1. Allow and Accept submissions as I have recommend throughout this report, and;

Either; 2 Approve the granting of concession lease for a term of 49 years and concession licenses and easements for a term of 60 years to Riverstone Holdings Limited, and that your approval be subject to resolution and agreement of concession conditions and requirements including concession fees, compensation and bond arrangements, to your satisfaction;

or 3. Decline the concession application pursuant to section 17U(2) (a) of the Conservation Act 1987.

The bat is our only native land mammal. The presence of a population of the nationally critically endangered species of bat, is another thing that should have stopped the process at first base.

Bats cannot be translocated. This raises the question of whether impacts can therefore be mitigated. The current decline of this species means it could become extinct within our lifetime.

There are so many levels, in addition to the results of any financial viability (or lack thereof), on which the Minister can base a decision to decline this application.

Check out our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SaveFiordland.

Petitions can still be signed: http://www.savefiordland.org.nz

Finally, thank you for still being there - it's two years now.