From: Editor, World Wildlife Fund
Published May 30, 2012 11:54 AM

New Zealand's natural heritage threatened by 20 years of environmental inaction

'Beyond Rio' is released today by global conservation organisation WWF ahead of next month’s meeting on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro, the location of the groundbreaking 1992 Earth Summit. At the historic summit New Zealand signed up to a series of agreements to tackle climate change, conserve biodiversity and live more sustainably.

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However WWF's report reveals the nation is falling short on important commitments made on greenhouse gases, water quality, land and marine biodiversity, fisheries and education for sustainability.

Chris Howe, Executive Director of WWF-New Zealand said, "Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud, is now a land of polluted rivers and lakes, rising greenhouse gas emissions, pressured marine ecosystems and disappearing bird and mammal species.

"While it is important for the government to constructively engage in the upcoming summit, we should not lose sight of the many commitments that already exist. If New Zealand's political leaders had made good on the promises made back in 1992, then we wouldn't be faced with such a battle to turn things around."

Key findings of the report include:

- Increased pollution in our lakes and rivers, including 43 per cent of monitored lakes in NZ now classed as polluted and an estimated 18,000-34,000 people annually catching waterborne diseases.

- More than 60 per cent of native freshwater fish as well as the only freshwater crayfish and mussel species are now threatened with extinction.

Article continues at World Wildlife Fund

New Zealand image via Shutterstock

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