What the public thinks : where do we want to go with rural New Zealand in the 21st century?
The ongoing biennial environmental survey, undertaken by staff at Lincoln University since 2000, has been used as a basis for identifying some future directions for rural New Zealand in the 21st Century. In the main, New Zealanders expect the government to provide high quality health and education systems and a strong economy, followed by a high quality environment. For individuals the priorities are different, and the environment and quality of life are more important drivers than economic considerations. In terms of the key resources and related pressures, states and responses the overall state of the New Zealand environment is very good, although of all resources considered freshwater rates the lowest. At a more local level there is considerable concern about lowland streams, rivers and lakes. Farming is increasingly blamed for damaging freshwater but also for damage to a range of other resources. There are important demographic differences. Those employed in resource based industries are much more positive about the state of specific water resources than are others – anglers are more pessimistic. Achieving sustainability would have multiple benefits for New Zealand and would arguably come at only one cost, a possibility of higher living costs. Overall these findings indicate a strong desire for New Zealand to have a high quality rural environment. A key implication therefore is that rural land development / intensification needs to occur with sustainability as a focus, and not afterwards as a quick fix solution.... [Show full abstract]