Auckland expects that we will all have a sense of pride in OUR natural heritage, and share the responsibility for living sustainably and looking after our environment.
Ko te aro whakaaro o Tāmaki Makaurau, kia hihiri te aronga o tātou katoa ki ngā taonga tuku iho, kia tuari te kawenga o te noho matatū me te tiaki i tō tātou taiao
429_ Aucklanders are the guardians of a precious environment. Our natural surroundings are unique: our harbours, volcanoes, productive soils, ranges, islands, lakes and streams provide a magnificent setting for the diversity that is Auckland. It is home to special wildlife in marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. The environment has intrinsic values which are values in their own right, as distinct from the benefits people obtain from them.
430_ Auckland’s environment and its people are intertwined. People depend on the life-supporting services it provides (see Box 7.1). Since the first Maori settlers, people have been drawn here because of the natural environment. It is beautiful; from rugged, wild, black-sand west coast beaches to sheltered, golden coves and islands. Auckland is spacious with its ‘low land, high sky and wide water’ – an open green and blue landscape. Map 7.1 shows places with high concentrations of native plants and animals, the network of streams, and the connections between environmental features throughout Auckland.
BOX 7.1 environmental principles (also see box 10.2)
Auckland’s environment must be healthy and resilient in order to support life and lifestyles. To ensure this we must recognise that:
- The environment supports us – the natural resources provided by our environment have limits, and must be protected and restored to ensure our future well-being.
- We need to consider environmental values in all that we do – the interaction between the environment and people is understood and considered in our everyday behaviour and choices.
- Everything is connected – human activities affect the air, sea, land and freshwater systems. Understanding the connections between environments in the way we manage them is critical.
- Biodiversity is everywhere – our flora and fauna, and their habitats, occur on both public and private spaces, and in urban, rural, freshwater and coastal areas. To maintain biodiversity values we must all work together.
- Natural hazards can affect our well-being – we need to ensure that Auckland and its people are resilient to the effects of natural hazards.
- We are environmental stewards – future generations will depend on how well we manage the natural environment.
431_ Over generations, waves of settlers have left their mark on the landscape. We have progressively reshaped and modified the environment to suit our needs. Despite regulation and considerable effort, many negative environmental trends continue. The State of the Auckland Region Report (2010)41 noted that:
- air pollution health costs are at least $547 million each year
- soils are degraded by compaction, chemical fertilisers, and erosion
- fresh water quality is poor in streams, wetlands, vulnerable aquifers and lakes
- sheltered marine areas receive high levels of contaminants and sediment from adjoining catchments
- half of our indigenous areas are in poor or very poor condition
- natural hazards cost Auckland millions of dollars each year, and with the effects of climate change these costs may rise
- resource consumption and waste production is increasing
- the extent and condition of Auckland’s heritage resources are not adequately recorded.
432_ The report declares that ‘looking ahead, it is clear that some environmental gains will be seen within an overall gradual decline.’ We need to respond to emerging threats which pose risk to our natural heritage, such as Kauri dieback. Unless a stronger focus is given to controlling at source those activities and elements that cause environmental harm, Auckland will not achieve its vision.
433_ Similarly, the Hauraki Gulf State of Environment Report 201142 identified that our marine environment is also under stress. Fish stocks are at low levels and there has been an incremental decline in water quality. The report noted that: ‘it is inevitable that further loss of the Gulf’s natural assets will occur unless bold, sustained and innovative steps are taken to better manage the utilisation of its resources and halt progressive environmental degradation.’
434_ The physical attributes and quality of living associated with our environment are a large part of Auckland’s appeal to residents, visitors and migrants. The environment is an essential part of our identity, our economy, and the way we live. We will safeguard what we have, and strive to radically improve our environment where it has become degraded. We will become a ’green Auckland’, through the directions and actions in the Plan, and live up to that name. Our own well-being depends on this, and as guardians of the environment, we have a responsibility to leave it in a better state for future generations.