Forest and Bird, with Students for Environmental Action and Coal Action Network Aotearoa are organizing a public meeting to expose the issues surrounding proposals to mine public conservation land on the Denniston Plateau.  The meeting will be held on Thursday 26 April in Castle One, Otago University at 7:30.  It is co-sponsored by the Otago Botanical Society and the Entomological Society.

The conservation groups say that the distinctive plateau with its strange rock formations and suite of specialized plants and animals should be protected and the coal left in the ground to help meet New Zealand’s climate protection commitments.

Photographer Rod Morris will show off Denniston’s secretive creatures and spectacular geckos and landscapes, and eminent botanist Sir Alan Mark will tell tussock and other tales about the Denniston’s distinctive plant diversity. Denniston’s lichens will be exposed by Otago University Student Lars Ludwig. Coal Action Network Aotearoa representative Tarsh Turner will discuss the climate change implications of turning Denniston into New Zealand’s largest open cast coal mine.

Australian owned Bathurst Resources has applied to open cast mine and destroy 200ha of public conservation land on the Denniston Plateau and has permits across the plateau which would dig up more than 50 million tonnes of coal.

Tarsh Turner said ‘Mining the Denniston Plateau will significantly increase New Zealand’s coal exports, at a time when we need to be transitioning away from fossil fuels to avoid catastrophic climate change.’

‘Digging up Denniston is the wrong direction for our valuable clean green image,’ she said.

“Open cast mining will destroy the landscape, and the existing indigenous ecosystems.  These can not be picked up in a digger and replaced,” Forest and Bird’s Otago Southland Field Officer, Sue Maturin says.

Forest and Bird believe the area should remain protected and that mining should be prohibited forever, just as in our National Parks.