US group enters NZ mining row
A United States conservation group is backing the call by a New Zealand scientist to not allow mining on seven areas of the Coromandel Peninsula because that would deal a "devastating blow" to the critically endangered Archey's frogs.
NZPA reported last month Otago University zoologist Phil Bishop's concerns about a Government proposal to open up some conservation land for mining, including in the Coromandel.
The Archey's frog is listed by the Zoological Society of London as the world's most evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered amphibian species.
"New Zealand has an obligation to do everything it can to ensure the survival of these incredible amphibians -- not drive them to extinction," Dr Bishop said.
Dr Kerry Kriger of United States group SAVE THE FROGS said amphibian populations have been declining rapidly worldwide and up to 200 species have disappeared in recent years.
"Invasive species and an infectious disease called chytridiomycosis are decimating frog populations in New Zealand and worldwide."
Dr Kriger said the Archey's frog lost 88 percent of its population in the past 14 years.
"It cannot be bred in captivity, meaning that the Government's proposal -- should it go through -- could banish the species to their permanent and premature demise. With one third of the world's amphibian species already on the brink of extinction, this would be absolutely unacceptable," he said.
"New Zealand has an international reputation as being one of the most beautiful places in the world, and this natural beauty is the source of the tourism industry on which all New Zealanders depend.
"Removing schedule 4 protections from New Zealand's prime conservation areas would tarnish the country's image, and cost the nation far more that any short-term gains brought by mining currently protected lands."
Submissions on a consultation document closed yesterday with more than 33,000 submissions received.