è Utilisation of natural areas (including habitats) may in some instances threaten the health and integrity of the resource.
Westland is recognised both nationally and internationally as having outstanding and relatively unmodified natural areas. Such areas include what is commonly referred to as the last great Kahikatea forest at Hunts Beach and habitats for rare flora and fauna.
The internationally recognised South West New Zealand World Heritage Area is, for a large part, contained within the District, as are Westland, Arthurs and Mount Aspiring National Parks, numerous wilderness areas and protected areas. Consequently some 85% of the District's land area is managed under a conservation mandate covering the vast majority of lands with significant conservation values. These conservation areas have varying degrees or levels of protection and are largely administered and managed by the Department of Conservation. It is envisaged that the West Coast Conservation Management Strategy will provide additional guidance and control on activities on this land.
Given the over-riding emphasis on conservation orientated-management within the District, the Plan's approach is to support sustainability managed, development opportunities that can avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects on the natural environment.
The Council also has an active policy of encouraging land swaps, whereby land with conservation values, outside the DOC estate, is exchanged for land within the DOC estate which does not have significant conservation values (for example, some stewardship land).
The adverse effects of activities need to be controlled so that the integrity of natural areas is retained. The pressure for urban or farming activities is limited due to the remoteness of most such areas and the Conservation mandate. But activities which have the potential to impact on the natural values of such areas include mining, harvesting activities (for example sphagnum moss) and tourism. Many tourist activities rely on the 'untouched and unspoilt' nature of natural areas, whereas mining can have quite a significant adverse effect depending on the scale, location and duration of the activity.
While tourism can generate employment and growth, it can also lead to pressure on resources. Development may occur in inappropriate locations, so generating adverse environmental effects compromising the very values that first attracted visitors.
3.7.1 To recognise and provide for the unique values and importance of natural environments and ecosystems in Westland.
3.7.2 To recognise that the people of the district can provide for their needs within the context of sustainable management.
3.7.3 To protect the integrity, functioning, and health of indigenous ecosystems and maintain the current diversity of indigenous flora and fauna.
è Gives explicit consideration of Section 5 of the Act, in particular "safe-guarding the life supporting capacity of air, water, soil and ecosystems ..." and its importance in achieving sustainable management of resources.
è Gives regard to Section 6(c) of the Act, protection of areas of significant indigenous vegetation habitats and fauna and Section 7(d), intrinsic values of ecosystems.
è Recognises the multi-value nature of natural environments in Westland, their national and international significance and the need for clear management guidance.