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Mangroves destruction driving birds towards extinction

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Forest and Bird is challenging the Northland Regional Council over a proposed regional plan that would make it easier to remove mangroves.

Northern regional manager Nick Beveridge says the plan marks out areas with significant birdlife, but does not impose any extra rules on mangrove removal or development in these areas.

That is a threat to birds like fairy terns or tara iti, of which only 36 are left in the world, as well as critically endangered Australasian bitterns and threatened banded rails which also live in Northland's mangrove forests.

"Because of upstream development you are getting a lot of sediment coming down and the mangroves trap it which means the water is clear enough for the birds to see the little fish they need to feed on, but once you get rid of the mangroves that function is lost and the water is too murky for the birds to see their food. We found in the past where mangroves have been removed, the productivity of breeding populations has dropped dramatically," Mr Beveridge says.

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