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Climate change and the Walking Access Commission
This month the IPCC described the changes we need to make to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels as “technically possible” - but it said we will require "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society".
That means that every group in every country needs to stop its day-to-day business and immediately work out what it can do to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.
The Walking Access Commission Ara Hīkoi Aotearoa has a part to play too.
People use New Zealand’s myriad of tracks and trails for two reasons. To get from one place to another place, or for recreation.
Walking and cycling tracks and trails need to play a central role in our country’s transport strategy. We need to develop tracks and trails that link people to the places that they need to get to. Our tracks need to link children to schools, workers to workplaces, houses to shops and towns to neighbouring towns.
We need a network of tracks and trails that make travelling by foot, cycle or e-bike the natural, obvious modes of transport for much more of our journeys.
The Commission’s role is to develop strategies and maps for what those networks of trails will look like. We need to advocate for those trails to be built, get access to the land people need to cross, and develop the amenities and infrastructure that make people want to use those trails.
Walking and cycling tracks and trails also need to play a central role in our country’s regional economic strategy. New Zealand’s economic future lies in farming and tourism.
But both of those activities need to find a way to become carbon neutral quickly. Good tracks and trails can help farmers to diversify their land use to lessen their carbon footprint. Good tracks and rails can also help tourism operators to find a way to prosper with fewer plane flights.
A network of tourist-friendly tracks and trails can help with both those goals. Tourists who spend a long time in the country on our tracks and trails, especially local Kiwi tourists, will share their wealth into our regions. They burn less carbon, contribute more back to our environment and support our regional economy as it transitions to carbon neutral farming.
We are ready to play our part in the global campaign to undo the climate damage we have done. We think a network of good tracks and trails is crucial to our success.
Photo of Whareora Farm, Kāpiti Coast, by Asher Wilson-Goldman