A. Adverse effects on the integrity, functioning and health of natural habitats and ecosystems and indigenous species shall be avoided, or where avoidance is not practical, remedied or mitigated.
B. The protection and enhancement of areas of significant indigenous vegetation and habitats of indigenous fauna, and outstanding natural features in the district will be encouraged.
C. To control the modification of natural wetlands to protect their natural character, landscape values and their significance as areas of indigenous vegetation and habitat for indigenous fauna, and to sustain their life supporting capacity as indigenous ecosystems.
D. Council will protect areas of significant indigenous vegetation and significant habitats of indigenous fauna and outstanding natural features in the District. Council will, in particular, target those indigenous vegetation types occurring in alluvial and coastal areas. All areas of significant indigenous vegetation and habitats shall meet one or more of the following criteria:
The area is unmodified by human activity, comprises a predominantly
intact indigenous system and is not affected in a major way by weed
or pest species; AND
The area of indigenous vegetation has a predominant cover of 5
hectares of more.
The area is one of the best examples of an association of species
which is typical of its ecological district;
The area has indigenous species or an association of indigenous species which is unusual or rare in the ecological district, or endemic or reaches a distribution limit in the ecological district. The area may be distinctive because of the influences of factors such as altitude, water table, soil type or geothermal activity.
(iv) Protected Status
The area has been set aside by New Zealand Statue or Covenant for protection and preservation or is a recognised wilderness area.
The area is connected to one or more other significant areas in a way, (including through ecological processes) which makes a major contribution to the overall value or natural functioning of those areas.
The area supports an indigenous species or community of species which is threatened within the ecological district or threatened nationally.
(vii) Migratory Species:
An inter-tidal area or area of forest, wetland, lake, estuary or other natural habitat that is important for migratory species or for breeding, feeding or other vulnerable stages of indigenous species.
(viii) Scientific or other Cultural Value:
The area is a type, locality or other scientific reference area, is listed as a geopreservation site, or has a distinctive amenity value (e.g. it contributes to a distinctive and outstanding landscape of the district, has other significant cultural value or is of international importance).
a. Council will work with other agencies with a view to promoting and encouraging the protection of indigenous vegetation and wildlife habitats in the District. Other opportunities able to be adopted by Council that highlight the importance of protecting particular indigenous vegetation and wildlife habitats include, where appropriate, public education, applying and encouraging conservation covenants on subdivisions or providing incentives. Council will also consider waiving Resource Consent application fees where the outcomes have a demonstrable public good.
b. The Forests Act 1949 will assist in ensuring some indigenous vegetation on private land is milled on a sustainable basis. Clearance of indigenous vegetation shall be a discretionary activity.
c. Some 85% of the District's land area is managed under a conservation mandate, with strict controls in order to protect significant conservation areas.
d. To recognise and provide for the protection of natural wetlands through plan rules, decisions on resource consent applications, public education, and incentives.
e. Within three years of the adoption of this plan the Westland District Council will notify a change pursuant to the First Schedule of the Resource Management Act 1991 involving the listing and/or mapping within the Plan of all land, other than land held for conservation purposes, on which there is significant indigenous vegetation or significant habitats of indigenous fauna.
f. The Council will make decisions on resource consent applications which recognise and provide protection of:
- significant indigenous vegetation and animal communities.
- outstanding natural features and landscapes, including geological and geomorphologic features and sites.
- natural values associated with riparian margins.
g. Council recognition that plants listed in the National Generic Pest Management Strategy Distribution Control List are a significant threat to natural diversity and that the prevention of introduced plant species to Westland can be assisted by public education. Council will liaise with the West coast Regional Council with regard to the establishment of the West Coast Regional Pest Management Strategy to be adopted pursuant to the Biosecurity Act 1993.
The protection of significant indigenous vegetation and significant habitat of indigenous fauna is listed as a matter of national importance in the Act. The policies recognise the importance and significance of this resource in the District and encourage a range of tools, including non-regulatory methods to protect natural areas. In particular, the Council will encourage land swaps between areas of land of conservation value and private land, and land administered by the Department of Conservation without significant conservation values.
In some cases, regulatory tools are appropriate however and other legislation, in particular the Forest Amendment Act is important in this regard as it details how native forestry will be sustainably managed.
Emphasis is placed on retaining the sustainability of natural areas. Activities may then utilise the resource provided adverse effects can be remedied or mitigated and options for future use of the resource remain open. This approach places the onus on developers and landowners to derive environmentally sound practices and methods of rehabilitation so that the full potential and benefits of resources to communities can be realised.
The vast majority of significant natural areas are located on the Conservation Estate, and accordingly, their preservation is assured.
Retention of significant habitats is also important for community welfare. For example, a range of natural environments must be retained in order to ensure that the five species of whitebait continue to spawn, and the industry surrounding them remains sustainable.
The importance and value of natural areas to tangata whenua is also recognised. The coast, rivers and forests are valued as areas traditionally used for food gathering. Maintenance of the quality of these resources and continued access to them is of concern to the runanga in Westland.
Anticipated Environmental Outcomes
Implementation of the above policies and parent objectives is expected to achieve the following outcomes.
I Retention of significant indigenous vegetation and natural habitats and the protection of life supporting capacity of indigenous ecosystem on land where subdivision and development take place.
II Restoration and rehabilitation of disturbed or degraded areas.
III Awareness of tangata whenua concerns regarding resource development within the Westland community.