Following its appeal to the Environment Court in April 2012, the Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society has won the right to remove mangroves from specific areas within Mangawhai Harbour.
Subject to defined conditions, consent has been granted for:
* removal of mangroves from the coastal marine area by hand and by mechanical equipment
* disturbance of the foreshore through vehicle movements associated with mangrove removal from the coastal marine area
* deposition of material on the foreshore, associated with the stockpiling and burning of felled mangroves.
This does not mean an unstructured onslaught against mangroves throughout the area. Conditions have been put in place for the purpose of preventing unauthorised removal by unapproved means encouraging restoration in a timely way, ensuring that the disruption of the estuary is minimised, that no works are carried out during the fairy tern breeding season, and that there is compliance with water quality and other relevant environmental standards. The works are to be controlled by the consent holder (MHRS) and monitored by Northland Regional Council.
Many residents may be disappointed that the whole of the harbour, including areas landward of the causeways, has not been included in the consent and that mangrove and seedling removal has been confined to specific areas of the Harbour. In the early stages of seeking resource consent for the project, the MHRS hoped to gain a larger removal area but it soon became apparent that this was not viable. Mangrove removal is a subject which engenders a lot of passion – mostly for but some against – from the Bay of Plenty to the Far North, and for those keen to rid our harbours of mangroves, this consent should be seen as a very positive first step.
Specifically, the consent provides for mangroves to be removed from Lincoln Street to Molesworth Drive including Moir Point, the Sand Island, the Insley Street causeway and part of Black Swamp Road.
Only mangrove seedlings may be removed from within, and adjacent to, the areas of harbour seaward of Molesworth Drive and Insley Street causeways, identified as Back Bay North (jetty to Molesworth Drive Bridge), Southern Shoreline (Riverside Holiday Park to Tern Point), and Back Bay South (Jetty to Kainui Street).
Where to next? There are still a number of steps to be taken before removal starts, hopefully in the first half of 2014, and there is a tremendous amount of preplanning, organisation and documentation required. A vital part of this is a Removal Management Plan that sets out how the removal of mangroves and mangrove seedlings will comply with the conditions of the consent and the MHRS executive is working on this at present.
The MHRS, as the steering organisation, is immensely grateful to the community for its support during the lengthy and stressful process of winning this consent. The success of the project thus far remains very much with the people of Mangawhai.
A public meeting is to be held early in the new year to look at the MHRS proposals, to exchange ideas, discuss options, and plan the way forward – date to be notified.