The Star Midweeker recently reported that a proposal to re-establish sea-bird populations at Lawyers Head by Forest & Bird has been put on hold until the Dunedin City Council completes the Ocean Beach Domain Management Plan. The project involves placing audio equipment at Lawyers head to attract birds back to the area and has already received funding from Speights Brewery. The rationale for the Council deferring the project is that the request may affect other users of the area, including the golf course and should be part of the planned consultation on the Management Plan. However, the issue for the future of this project is just how long will it take for the Council to undertake such a plan?
Ironically, the Dunedin Amenities Society have been requesting that the Ocean Beach Domain Management Plan be reviewed for at least the last six years and it appears the Council may be working on the production of a plan for Council approval and public consultation. Yet, the Council who control the management of the area, will not at least entertain a trial of the proposed programme to see whether the proposal is even viable? There is a significant amount to gain from such a trial, rather than padding this out for as long a Management Plan may take. The current Ocean Beach Domain Management Plan has no references to avian biodiversity on the reserve or the wider coastal environs. Therefore, the Council could at least gain some insight for the future management of the Domain and perhaps the beginnings of a programme to protect and enhance what bird life may actually be present in the area.
There is significant value provided by avian biodiversity to both our physical and economic environment. Dunedin’s economic lifeline has been based upon an avian tourism industry created by the presence of the Royal Albatross and Yellow-eyed Penguin. So, the continued delay in initiating this opportunity at Lawyers Head is disheartening because it fails to embrace a broader vision for both the biodiversity and economy of the city.