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Published: 2013-09-06 00:00:00

With more Coromandel communities raising concerns about the spread of mangroves in harbours and sheltered areas, Thames Coromandel District Council and the Waikato Regional Council are joining together to look at how best these areas can be managed.

As part of this, initial steps are being taken to look at holding the line on expansion. The work is part of a wider range of harbour and catchment management activities aimed at addressing sedimentation, water quality, land management and habitat issues.

The two councils are jointly starting a consultation process to work out whether or not they should be applying for a resource consent to allow for the removal of mangrove seedlings within selected areas of Coromandel harbour systems to manage further expansion of the coastal plant.

“With things like river-borne sediment changing our coastal environments, mangroves are continuing to spread at a relatively rapid rate on the Coromandel,” said the regional council’s harbour and catchment management co-ordinator Emily O’Donnell.

“A holding the line approach through obtaining a general consent to remove seedlings from designated areas would let the councils respond to community requests to help prevent the spread of mangroves.

“It would also help provide breathing space for councils and communities to consider the best way of proceeding with managing mangroves.”

Such breathing space would also be useful when it comes to the review of the Regional Coastal Plan, due to start in 2015, which will look again at how mangroves should be managed regionally, Ms O’Donnell added.

“At present, consents have been issued for mangrove removal in the Wharekawa and Whangamata harbours, with a resource consent application lodged for Tairua.

“In carrying out this work it is important that we consider both the valuable role mangroves play along with how they can be actively managed. It is about trying to strike a balance, and considering wider impacts and influences.”

The two councils are keen to hear from the community about the seedling proposal.

“It’s important that we hear from communities to gain a better understanding of the changes that are occurring, and where mangroves need to be preserved” said Ms O’Donnell.

“Also, we collectively need to be taking steps to decrease the amount of sediment entering coastal areas to help manage the problem from that side of the equation.”

For more information contact the regional council’s Whitianga office on 07 866 0172.