November 15, 1999Hobbits Not
Welcome in Kahurangi National Park
The Forest and Bird Protection Society is concerned that
Frodo and his hairy hobbit friends with their attendant large film crews may severely
damage sensitive landscapes in the Kahurangi National Park and Kepler Mire, an ancient
string bog in Fiordland.
Forest and Bird's Southern Conservation Officer, Sue Maturin,
said the Society opposed the Lord of the Rings being filmed in the internationally
significant Kepler Mire and the glaciated karst country at Mt Owen in Kahurangi National
The Society was responding to Conservation Minister Nick
Smith, announcement yesterday that the filming of the movie has been granted consents to
film in several areas of National Parks and Conservation land. These include 11 sites in
Fiordland/Te Anau, 13 in Otago and 1 in Nelson.
Ms Maturin said the Society was disappointed to learn that
the Minister has granted the entire concession. "The processing of the concession has
been done in secret, it was not publicly advertised and neither the Nelson or Otago
Conservation Boards were consulted."
Ms Maturin said the application has the potential to cause
significant environmental damage within our national parks. "Filming in some areas
will involve bringing 30 equipment trucks, 10 caravans, and up to 200 staff on to some
sites for up to 9 days at a time.
"National parks are meant to be preserved as far as
possible in their natural state and commercial concessions are supposed to avoid annoying
other park users."
Ms Maturin said one of the sites at risk included the
proposed RAMSAR Wetland of International Importance the "Kepler Mire" in the Te
"This is an ancient string bog, which is made up of
numerous ponds and long narrow pools separated by peat walls. The Mire is a very rare
wetland type in the Southern Hemisphere, as string bogs are normally found in the
Ms Maturin said that trampling by the actors and film crew
could easily break down the peat walls and crush sensitive wetland plants. "Once
damaged it is highly unlikely that the wetlands could be restored."
"Another site at risk is the internationally important
glaciated karst country at Mt Owen, in Kahurangi National Park. Here there are areas of
exposed marble, which are like fragile sculptures, sensitive alpine herbfields and
"Sensitive areas of national parks should not be used
for activities which could damage the qualities for which they have been protected,"
concluded Ms Maturin.