A Mainland Island Reserve at Long Bay – Okura
Biodiversity is the greatest environmental issue facing New Zealand. Over 90% of the plant species now growing here have been imported. Only 8.6 % of our plant species are indigenous. Extinctions of many of our fauna and flora are well documented and as a country we feature in the Red Data book with plants and animals still vulnerable and threatened with extinction.
Islands – at a sufficient distance from our coast to be made and kept predator free – have been a successful management tool in creating pest free reserves for a range of our most endangered species. But they are short term solutions with little chance for our species to maintain the genetic diversity they will need for their long-term survival.
The Mainland Islands concept has been a new advance in species management. A recent national review of our six Mainland Islands came out in support of the Mainland Island approach. Tiritiri Matangi and Little Barrier are two Island Reserves where species have survived and flourished to the extent that that translocation to other areas is feasible. These Islands are in close proximity to long bay so translocation of species from these off-shore islands to a Longbay-Okura Mainland Island is quite possible.
Long Bay – Okura Great Park
The Great Park proposal for Long Bay Okura offers an opportunity to include a Mainland Island within its boundaries.
The gazetting of a Marine Reserve in 1991 added an extra dimension to an already significant landscape. The hinterland is geomorphologically vulnerable and development into a residential and commercial subdivision will diminish the biological quality of the Marine Reserve. To protect the Marine Reserve with a sizeable Park hinterland would be to create a urban reserve of outstanding biological dimensions accessible to the greatest population density in New Zealand
The North Shore faces water quality and development issues along the East Coast Bays coastline, including Longbay-Okura. The Long Bay Regional Park beaches contain the last remaining examples of natural land and seascapes which, if extended could continue to serve the recreational and biological needs of future generations.
The area has been chosen by the Marine Education and Recreational Centre for its headquarters and attracts over 10,000 visitors annually. While many come across the region over 3000 international students also use the facilities. A forest park hinterland would protect and enhance this facility by maintaining SEA water quality for the outdoor pursuits and adding another educational dimension.
The long bay regional park is visited by 1.3 million people annually making it very significant regionally and natioanally, as a recreational and tourist attraction. A Mainland Island Reserve would extend the attraction of the park and provide a rich natural experience for those unable to access off shore islands.
A continuum of natural character from hilltop to the outer boundaries of the marine reserve would be a significant visual and biological asset.