Tairua and Pauanui residents are being urged to be patient and not undertake any illegal clearance of mangroves in Tairua harbour.
It follows the discovery yesterday by Waikato Regional Council staff that a total of about 0.2 hectares of mature mangroves had been cut down near the boardwalk on the Pauanui side of the harbour.
The cutting is in three distinct areas, with the largest being about a quarter the size of a rugby field, said Tairua coastal project manager Emily O’Donnell.
“It appears the illegal cutting has been undertaken in the past month. Some of the cut down mangroves had been left in place, some were put under the boardwalk and the rest removed. There is no clear reason apparent as to why people might have chosen the three particular sites to clear.
“This clearance is illegal as no resource consent has been granted for clearance of mangroves in the Tairua harbour.
“It’s very disappointing this has happened now as the council’s river and catchment services team is in the process of preparing a consent application to lawfully remove approximately 20 hectares, for reasons such as protecting other plant species and managing stream channels. This illegal activity potentially means this process could be more complicated and costly than we hope.
“We would strongly urge people not to undertake illegal clearance because of the potential environmental damage. We have a proper process in place to try to address the spread of mangroves at Tairua. We urge people to be patient and await the outcome of that.”
Ms O’Donnell said the planned process from here was for the river and catchment services team to lodge a consent application by Christmas. “Depending on how this application process goes we could be starting mangrove clearance at Tairua by as early as April 2013.”
It was unclear at this stage what environmental affect the recent clearance might have.