The Group met twice in July. These meetings concentrated on developing draft policy for the National Policy Statement (NPS), along with complementary and supporting measures that will sit alongside the NPS. At the end of July, the trustees met with a reference group of territorial authority representatives. This meeting provided an opportunity for the trustees to update attendees on the Group’s progress and get their feedback on the Group’s work.
The Group held two meetings in June, on the 6th and 7th and the 25th and 26th, with the focus shifting from gathering evidence to developing policy. At the first meeting the Group discussed effects management and the evidence it has considered to date. The Group also discussed the scope, direction and content of policy. At the second meeting the Group considered a paper on incorporating Māori perspectives into the draft National Policy Statement. Other agenda items included the use of offsetting, restoration policy, and wetlands identification.
In May the Group travelled to Whakatane where it was hosted by Ngāti Awa at Te Mānuka Tūtahi Marae. The focus of the meeting was on incorporating Māori perspectives into the NPS and recommendations for supporting measures. The Group heard from a range of speakers on topics including how to make use of mātauranga Māori (knowledge, wisdom or skill) and rongoā (a way of being, knowing and acting within an encompassing whakapapa), the role of trustess responsible for collectively owned Māori land, and Māori land law. The Group went on a field trip to visit the site of the Omataroa Kiwi Project, the Puhikoko Reserve, where the local community led by the Omataroa-Rangitaiki No 2 Trust is running a kiwi conservation effort.
In April the BCG met for a day to discuss effects management. The group considered advice on effects to avoid in order to maintain biodiversity and progressed discussion on policy options for an effects management regime (to be continued). In the afternoon, the Group heard from MfE about its wetlands work programme and research into identification methods. To conclude the meeting, the BCG received an update from members working on a paper about Mātauranga Māori.
The BCG’s March meeting was based around a series of focused sessions to generate policy and associated recommendations relating to identification of significant natural areas, the concept of regional biodiversity enhancement plans, and biodiversity targets for depauperate areas. The Group also heard about and debated the MPI’s Biosecurity 2025 strategy and MfE’s upcoming consultation on the National Planning Standards to identify issues with and opportunities for policy coherence. At the end of day one, members met Associate Minister for the Environment and Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage, to discuss the Group’s scope of work and programme.
Ōtāhuhu, Auckland (credit: Raewyn Peart
Towards the beginning of February the BCG trustees and a representative from the Ministry for the Environment met with representatives of the Territorial Authorities to discuss the work of the BCG so far and hear about key issues and opportunities for Territorial Authorities in biodiversity management. They also garnered Territorial Authorities’ perspectives on monitoring, compliance, and enforcement, experiences with identifying significant natural areas (SNA) and regulating effects on them and the use of target setting for biodiversity maintenance.
At its February meeting the BCG started to sink its teeth into recommendations for monitoring, reporting, compliance and enforcement, and on identifying SNA. After looking at SNA identification it continued discussions on effects management. This discussion incorporated advice it heard earlier from Territorial Authorities. The Group also investigated potential opportunities for national direction on wetlands while ensuring policy coherence with the NPSFM. To assist with that task, it heard from a Freshwater Ecologist from Puhoi Stour on the state of and pressures on wetlands and Auckland Council’s method for identifying wetlands of different types. Building on earlier broad discussions around economic incentives the Group also heard from an experienced planner on enhancement subdivision planning provisions, in particular the use of transferrable development rights. To wrap up day 1 of discussions the Group meet with Associate Minister for the Environment, Nanaia Mahuta, to discuss its work and talk about where she thinks it could make the most difference.
Kaitoke wetland (credit: Raewyn Peart)
To start the year the BCG traded suits for gumboots, heading on a field trip to Christchurch to see the work of the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust and discuss what makes an intervention successful on the ground. We were hosted by members of the Trust in Fisherman’s Bay and heard about the successful protection of the largest mainland colony of little penguin at Flea Bay. We also heard about their concerns regarding regulation. The trip also included a number of ‘class room’ sessions with presentations from Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research about naturally uncommon ecosystems classification, and from ecologists about criteria for identifying areas of significant biodiversity value, Department of Conservation’s Canterbury office on South Island biodiversity loss and recurrent issues the Canterbury office encounters, and their suggestions for where national direction would add value. Christchurch City Council spoke to the group about urban restoration and potential incentive tools, and the Regional Council described its biodiversity strategy and the collaborative biodiversity restoration programme for Lake Ellesmere being carried out under the auspices of the Te Waihora co-governance agreement.
Banks Peninsula, Christchurch (Photo credit: Brooke Cox
In the week before Christmas the BCG undertook a stock take of what it has heard so far and worked on the structure and framing of its report. It also received feedback on a first round of Regional Hui run by the Iwi Advisors Group in conjunction with the Ministry for the Environment on environmental issues.
Harakeke, Okahu Island (credit: Raewyn Peart)
In November the BCG continued sector investigations looking at how infrastructure projects impact and address biodiversity, hearing from the NZ Transport Agency. It also looked into opportunities and methods for biodiversity protection and restoration in working productive landscapes and ownership and management complexities of Māori land from Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research. The Group continued its discussion on effects management, honing in on the meaning and effect of different management requirements.
Arthurs Pass (credit: Raewyn Peart)
The second October BCG meeting was filled with a number of presentations building on key issues emerging from its work so far. Following on from the session on the importance of monitoring and reporting in early 2017, at this session a consultant from Catalyst Group took the group through the key issues inhibiting effective monitoring, reporting and compliance nationally and guided a discussion on potential solutions. The Group further discussed natural capital and the importance of ecosystem services. It heard from the Ministry for the Environment on the progress of its work in this space and discussed where it fits with the BCG’s project. Building on broader freshwater presentations the Group heard from the Department of Conservation in response to specific questions it had raised about threats from non-indigenous species to native biota and freshwater biodiversity issues not clearly covered by the NPSFM. Following these discussions, the Group made a first pass on the complex issue of effects management including avoidance, remediation, mitigation, biodiversity offsetting, biodiversity compensation, adaptive management and the precautionary approach. A representative from the electricity generation sector provided the Group with a case study of biodiversity compensation on the ground, focussed on Genesis Energy’s whio protection project.
Hokitika Gorge (credit: Raewyn Peart)