Date: 11 May 2012
The behaviour of four-wheel drivers who damaged protected wetlands in Canterbury recently has been condemned by 4WD clubs and the Department of Conservation.
Several four-wheel drive vehicles were seen driving off allowed routes through wetlands on public conservation land around Lake Clearwater last month causing extensive damage. The wetlands are part of the nationally-significant Ō Tū Wharekai or Ashburton lakes wetland complex and restoration project.
4WD damage near Lake Clearwater
Combined 4WD Clubs president Graham Pullman says the behaviour of these drivers has been a “kick in the guts” and undermines the work the club has put into promoting responsible 4WD use in the area.
“Club members are shocked and annoyed that these idiots feel it is acceptable to ignore signs, go off the formed track and damage our precious wetlands just for kicks.”
“The Club has spent considerable time and effort working with DOC advocating for 4WD access on public conservation land and sponsoring conservation projects around Ashburton lakes.”
DOC Raukapuka Area Manager George Hadler says he is disheartened by the act of vehicle vandalism. Volunteers at a public planting event at the wetland on Anzac Day had to spend time trying to fix the damage instead of planting to improve wildlife habitat.
“In recent years 4WD behaviour in the Ashburton lakes area and Hakatere Conservation Park has improved markedly, but this is a real step backwards,” says Hadler.
However, the Department is encouraged by the work and support of the Combined 4WD Clubs, who have worked closely with Raukapuka and other DOC offices, he says.
The Combined 4WD Clubs represents 11 South Island 4WD clubs with a combined membership of more than 800. The clubs regularly run trips for drivers and can provide information on where to go.
Janine Sidery: +64 3 693 1012 or +64 027 261 1716
Fiona Oliphant: +64 027 470 1378