Latest Government consultation – National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity

The Government has now released the proposed National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (Proposed NPS) and accompanying discussion document for public consultation.

• A copy of the Proposed NPS is available here.

• A copy of the discussion document, He kura koiora i hokia, is available here.

The Proposed NPS is in response to the decline of New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity. The Resource Management Act 1991 requires councils to maintain indigenous biodiversity. This is currently approached differently on a region to region basis, with variable results. In our experience, this has resulted in multiple Environment Court appeals against regional planning documents around the country as the regional councils grapple with this issue. The Proposed NPS aims to provide direction and consistency at the national level.

The Proposed NPS follows the work of the Biodiversity Collaborative Group (Group), which in October 2018 produced a report and recommendations on national-level policy for indigenous biodiversity. The Group prepared a draft national policy statement. The Proposed NPS is a reviewed and revised version of that document.

What is the timeline and process?

• Submissions on the Proposed NPS and discussion document are open until 14 March 2020.

• The Ministry for the Environment, in consultation with the Department of Conservation, will then produce a summary of submissions and recommendations for the respective Ministers’ final policy decisions.

• The new NPS is expected to be Gazetted in around mid 2020.

• All councils will be required to have plan changes implementing the Proposed NPS notified as soon as practicable and no later than 31 December 2028.

What does the Proposed NPS involve?

The preamble to the Proposed NPS recognises that indigenous biodiversity is in a state of decline in New Zealand and that a range of approaches are required to achieve an overall objective of maintaining indigenous biodiversity. The concept of Hutia te Rito is used as the framework for an integrated and holistic approach. Hutia te Rito recognises the impact people have on the natural environment and that human action determines the survival of the natural environment.

The overarching philosophy of the Proposed NPS is essentially that “maintenance” means no reduction in the size, occupancy, properties, extent, connectivity and resilience of indigenous biodiversity ecosystems and populations. The Proposed NPS will apply to the management of biodiversity across all forms of land tenure, and public, private and Māori land.

Of note, the Proposed NPS seeks to implement three specific initiatives:

• The identification of significant natural areas (SNAs) by all territorial authorities within five years of the Proposed NPS coming into effect. SNAs will be subject to more stringent management, requiring adverse effects to be avoided. Some councils are already doing this, but the approaches are not consistent across the country.

• The management of highly mobile fauna to maintain viable populations, through the identification and management of adverse effects of development in highly mobile fauna areas.

• In accordance with New Zealand’s obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity, the adoption by local authorities of a precautionary approach toward proposed activities where effects on indigenous biodiversity are uncertain or unknown but potentially significant.

If you have any questions or concerns about how the Proposed NPS might affect your land, business or future interests, or would like assistance preparing a submission, please contact the Lane Neave Resource Management team: Joshua Leckie, Rebecca Wolt, Annabel Linterman, Kelsey Barry.

Thank you to Ben Barry-Walsh for his assistance with the preparation of this article.

Resource Management team

Josh Leckie, Annabel Linterman, Kelsey Barry

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