Bezorgdheid over het effect van het voorgestelde Lower Hutt-pad op pinguïnsfebruari 26, 2020
Two of conservation’s heavy hitters have raised concerns over a proposed pathway they say could put penguins in jeopardy.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) and Forest & Bird lodged submissions opposing the Eastern Bays Shared Path in Lower Hutt citing inadequate measures to protect the environment.
Both organisations made mention of the potential impact on the at-risk little blue penguins, or kororā, that live along the shoreline.
DOC believes up to 14 per cent of Wellington’s little blue penguin population – more than 100 birds – nest along the eastern bays and more needed to be done to protect them from traffic, habitat displacement and dogs.
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They were also concerned the path’s construction would have an impact on 5000 square metres of shorebird foraging habitat used by the nationally threatened reef heron and caspian tern. The regionally threatened variable oyster catcher and nine at-risk species are also present in the area.
The Hutt City Council is the applicant for the 4.4 kilometre cycle and walking path that would provide a link in the Great Harbour Way, and to the Remutaka Cycle Trail.
A vertical seawall would run along the majority of the path on either side of Days Bay and north to Point Howard to minimise the impact of waves washing over the path and increase the resilience of existing coastal roads.
DOC’s Kāpiti and Wellington operations manager, Jack Mace, said the organisation was in discussions with the path’s stakeholders but was not in a position to comment other than to say discussions were going well.
Forest & Bird regional manager Amelia Geary said the organisation’s “opposed” status on the submission was a bureaucratic classification that did not reflect its support for the path.
“There are a couple of aspects of the proposed design that we think need to be improved,” Geary said.
“At the moment there is risk of adverse effects to coastal species as well as permanent loss of coastal habitat, so we have some conditions attached to our support.”
Hutt City Council senior project engineer Simon Cager said the environmental effects on the path could be managed. Feedback from DOC and Forest & Bird would help inform the design and consent conditions.
Penguin specialist Mike Rumble has been monitoring the eastern bay’s penguins for over a decade and was hopeful of a positive outcome for all parties.
He said the path was a necessary piece of infrastructure but past development of roads and seawalls had excluded penguins from the majority of suitable habitat in the area.
The penguin population was already on a long-term downward trend and, without alteration, the proposed design would further negatively affect the birds.