Environment Southland is seeking feedback on options to protect our vulnerable toheroa, a native surf clam, from the impacts of vehicles on Oreti Beach.
It has been estimated that vehicles increase mortality in young toheroa by at least 23%. To protect the current population and hopefully increase the sustainability of the toheroa habitat, Environment Southland is suggesting four possible options, with varying degrees of vehicle restrictions on the beach.
Environment Southland Chairman Nicol Horrell said, “We know Oreti Beach is highly valued by Southlanders and part of the attraction is the ability to drive on the beach. This is why we have developed four separate options for vehicle restrictions on the beach, with each option providing a ‘safe zone’ for people and young toheroa, free from vehicles.”
“There really is no option to do nothing,” Chairman Horrell said. “As a regional council we are tasked with the protection of indigenous species in the coastal environment, and we are proactively looking at possible solutions to make this happen. Research has shown that restricting vehicles from the areas where juvenile toheroa live is likely to be the most effective way to provide them with the best chance of survival.”
Despite the beach being considered a road, under the Resource Management Act Environment Southland can establish rules to maintain indigenous biological diversity – in this case, to protect young toheroa.
Submit your feedback online at haveyoursay.es.govt.nz or pick up a survey from your local council office. The Surf Life Saving team will also have them available at their station at Oreti Beach on weekends. For more information email [email protected] or contact 0800 76 88 45. Feedback closes on Friday 21 February 2020.
Following the close of this feedback period, analysis will be completed before a report is presented to Council and Te Ao Marama Board members. This information will be used to write the draft Coastal Plan provisions, which will be completed in the second half of 2020. There will be further opportunities to submit on this and a range of other topics relating to the coast at that time.