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Call for local leadership on environmental issues

November 13th, 2015
[by David Armstrong]

The Motueka Community Board should "take leadership in promoting Motueka as a town that deliberately and intelligently takes care of Nature", environmental advocates say.

The Motueka group The Renewables made a submission on practical ways of doing this to the Community Board's long-term planning process during its public forum on Tuesday. (Read the full submission here.)

Much of the work that The Renewables are advocating is based on the findings of the Motueka 2030 community consultation process held in May this year, when participants indicated strong priorities for projects around community resilience and sustainability.

"We congratulate the Community Board on developing a long-term plan for Motueka, and we're glad to be able to contribute to this process," Renewables representatives Kat Seligman and Joanna Santa Barbara told the forum.

"Our accustomed framework is long-term. We are usually considering risks in terms of several decades. The risks we wish to avert are the large-scale ones of climate change. We believe this should be a prominent issue at every scale of governance, including, perhaps especially, local governance.

"We strongly believe that 'local' is where important initiatives can arise; 'local' is certainly where the effects will be felt, and the costs will be paid. This is an issue where local leadership is paramount."

They said they were strongly encouraged by the results of Motueka 2030, which provided a foundation for their suggested contributions to the Motueka long-term plan.

When the responses to items were rank-ordered by popularity, four of the top 10 fell into the area of lowering energy use in general, especially energy from fossil fuels. Eleven of the total of 45 items would contribute either to lowering carbon emissions or to sequestering more carbon from the atmosphere.

They said practical activities and projects highlighted by Motueka 2030, which the Community Board should lead or support, included:

  • Planting more trees in the town, including those with edible fruit and nuts (called 'food forests') to help sequester carbon.
  • Promoting greater self-sufficiency in domestic energy, water, sewage and food.
  • Encouraging roof rain-water collection and educate on water frugality.
  • Renewable energy for home heating and cooking through passive solar home design or renovation.
  • Promoting home gardens and more community gardens.
  • Providing public transport, encouraging biking and walking, and promoting ride-sharing.
  • Diversifying the local economy through a local currency.
  • Researching biochar sequestration and composting toilets.
  • Encouraging research into major sources of greenhouse gas emissions in our area, and alternative measures to lower them.

They said a document closely relating to their submission has became available from Local Government NZ, endorsed by 17 mayors, including those of NZ's largest cities.

"This declaration covers many of the same actions that can be taken in municipalities, as well as urging stronger action at the national level. We request that the Motueka Community Board endorse this declaration and urge TDC to sign on to it."


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