The RMA Quality Planning Resource

Ecosystem management concepts

There are several concepts that are relevant to the management of ecosystems:

The glossary contains further definitions.

Regulatory and non-regulatory tools

The following sets out the methods (regulatory and non-regulatory) for managing biodiversity.

  1. Regulatory provisions
  2. Regulatory economic instruments
  3. Non-regulatory tools
  4. Non-regulatory economic instruments
  5. Council lands
  6. Council infrastructure development and maintenance
  7. Council biosecurity work
  8. Accessing expertise

To go to a method within a section, click on the relevant section heading below to jump to its contents table listing the methods and tools relevant to that section. Then click on the method or tool sub-heading to go to the method itself.

Overview of methods and tools available and their application

Methods/tools

Application

Key words summary

Regional

District

Area 
Wide

Site
  Specific

Area
  Wide

Site
  Specific

1. Regulatory provisions

Reg1: Biodiversity management/protection as a key theme in plans

Y

 

Y

 

Framework for management.

Reg2: Zones with restrictive rules for biodiversity protection purposes

 

Y

 

Y

Zones where precise information not known.

Reg3: Schedules of ‘significant natural areas’ with associated rules

     

Y

Precise information needed. Can form basis for action.

Reg4: Schedules of ‘significant natural areas’ without associated rules

     

Y

Precise information needed. Generic rules needed.

Reg5: District wide rules on indigenous vegetation clearance, logging and/or modification

   

Y

 

Generic protection that can be cost effective. Monitoring and compliance issues.

Reg6: District rules allowing landowners to seek exemption from vegetation clearance/modification rules

   

Y

 

Allows landowners to obtain certificate of compliance, but issue of significance of an area enhancing over time.

Reg7: Regional rules on vegetation clearance or modification

Y

     

Typically apply to steep land. Effects tend to be limited to aquatic impacts.

Reg8: District rules restricting wetland drainage and infilling

   

Y

 

Reduces need to collect data. Monitoring and compliance issues. Can result in cumulative loss.

Reg9: Regional rules restricting ecologically damaging activities for wetlands, lakes and rivers

Y

     

Address various damaging activities, including structures, taking heat and energy, and planting.

Reg10: Regional rules and methods to encourage landowners to enhance wetlands

Y

Y

   

Allow wetland enhancement, which could be limited to that in accordance with a management plan.

Reg11: Regional rules restricting a wide array of ecologically damaging activities for terrestrial and aquatic rare, threatened and at-risk habitats

Y

Y

   

Specifies/controls activities for habitat types. Sites need not be specified. Monitoring issues. Can lead to loss of ‘green’ corridors connecting important areas.

Reg12: Combination of schedule of ecologically significant sites and district wide rules controlling vegetation clearance (and wetland drainage)

   

Y

Y

Sites and generic rules. Useful if data incomplete. Schedule can outweigh generic rules so they become less effective.

Reg13: Linking rules to criteria identifying significant natural areas

Y

 

Y

 

Allows significant natural areas to identified and projected in future including when determining applications.

Reg14: District rules and methods to specifically address aquatic ecosystems

   

Y

Y

Suite of measures to protect aquatic eco-systems from land use development. Effects can be from existing land uses.

Reg15: District rules controlling farming of potential pest animal species

   

Y

Y

Reduce risk of goat invasions. Cost of requiring landowners to erect goat proof fences. Can specify zones for rules.

Reg16: Rules addressing natural hazard mitigation in a way that protects biodiversity values

   

Y

Y

Rules to reduce risk of inundation, coastal erosion and reduces mitigation costs. Can restrict current landowners.

Reg17: District and regional plan rules to support water conservation orders

Y

 

Y

 

Regional control intent of orders. Regulate riparian activity.

Reg18: Designations, heritage protection orders

 

Y

 

Y

Legal control. Potentially expensive and protracted process.

Reg19: Water conservation orders

 

Y

   

National tools binds local decision making. Expensive and lengthy process.

Reg20: Plan standards for biodiversity protection and enhancement

Y

 

Y

 

Standard conditions that can be varied to suit circumstance. Rules need to support.

Reg21: Requiring covenants as conditions for resource consents

   

Y

 

Covenants to protect/enhance areas in return for allowing subdivision. Compliance issues. Needs monitoring.

Reg22: Esplanade reserves and strips to protect and facilitate enhancement of riparian and aquatic biodiversity

   

Y

 

Facilitates protection and enhancement. Can be maintenance burden to councils.

Reg23: Special legislation

 

Y

 

Y

Used where existing legislation inadequate.

2. Regulatory economic instruments

RegE1: On-site subdivision privileges for biodiversity protection (protection lots)

   

Y

 

Provide subdivision privileges in exchange for protecting an area of ecological value. Compliance and monitoring issues.

RegE2: On-site subdivision privileges for scheduled significant natural areas

     

Y

Same as above, but targets sites.

RegE3: On-site subdivision privileges for biodiversity restoration

   

Y

 

Same as RegE1, but privileges increase pro rata to scale of ecological works. Once lot sold, compliance can be issue.

RegE4: Transferable off-site subdivision development privilege in return for protecting an identified area of biodiversity value

       

Similar to RegE1 but rights transferable to other sites. Helps protect areas where no demand for development.

RegE5: Plan provisions enabling financial contributions for biodiversity protection purposes

   

Y

 

Useful where there is growth. Need clear link between growth and investment. Programme of investment needed.

RegE6: Waiving application fees for identified significant natural areas

 

Y

 

Y

Reduces objections to SNA listing. Encourages protection.

RegE7: Prosecuting those who infringe rules or conditions of resource consents

 

Y

 

Y

Well publicised prosecution increases compliance. Requires good monitoring and evidence base.

3. Non-regulatory tools

NReg1: Biodiversity strategies and action plans for a region or district

Y

 

Y

 

Regional plan – coordinates activity, requiring multi-agency sign off. District – action plan. May not link with other agencies.

NReg2: Providing biodiversity management information/education resources for landowners and the community

Y

Y

Y

Y

Distribution of material to inform, engage, educate, empower. Used on their own tend to be ineffective so should be linked.

NReg3: Telephone advice service

Y

Y

Y

Y

Free (independent) advice. Need good advisors and information.

NReg4: Landowner property plans that address biodiversity

 

Y

 

Y

Voluntary plans, can be grant assisted. Often first step towards meeting broader environmental objectives.

NReg5: Comprehensive ecological assessment and indigenous biodiversity protection programme for private land

 

Y

 

Y

Council resources (officer and money) to develop evidence, work with landowners on plans, obtain funding from government.

NReg6: Employing appropriate staff

Y

 

Y

 

Increases quality of decisions and management, but also costs.

NReg7: Industry standards, accords and protocols for biodiversity protection and restoration

Y

 

Y

 

Encourages improved standards. Not a substitute for plan provisions as are strategic/generic. Normally applies nationally.

NReg8: Multi-agency and community environmental restoration programmes

 

Y

 

Y

Goes beyond the scope of what single agency can provide.

NReg9: Multi-agency biodiversity management and ecological restoration accords

Y

 

Y

 

Align activities of agencies. Set objectives, roles and processes for working together, and hence basis for individual projects.

4. Non-regulatory economic instruments

NRegE1: Contestable council funds for environmental protection and enhancement

Y

 

Y

 

Incentives for ecological protection and restoration. Incentive must be attractive. Needs to be well publicised.

NRegE2: Comprehensive package of non-regulatory mechanisms to assist landowners to protect and restore biodiversity values

Y

 

Y

 

Alternative to NRegE1. Range of mechanisms and incentives to help protect and enhance. Needs sufficient funds and be well publicised.

NRegE3: Discounted disposal of environmental weeds

Y

 

Y

 

Reduces dumping (road side and sensitive areas). Encourages action. Needs to be well publicised.

NRegE4: Annual rates relief for protected areas

Y

 

Y

 

Recognition for protecting values normally when application for rates relief made. Relief needs to be attractive.

NRegE5: Annual grant for legally protected areas on private land

       

Grants based on rating and lot size. Grant must be attractive – issue when scheme stopped or reduced. Care to ensure not double dipped with other tools.

NRegE6: Free or discounted resources

Y

Y

Y

Y

Tends to be linked to agreements with council on land. Positive working with landowners. Encourages action.

NRegE7: Assisting community trusts involved in environmental protection activities

 

Y

 

Y

Financial assistance.

5. Council lands

CL1: Managing biodiversity values on council lands

 

Y

 

Y

Lands can have significant biodiversity values and can include esplanade reserves. Management plans assist.

CL2: Identification and legal protection status for council areas of biodiversity value

 

Y

 

Y

Council to lead by example protecting areas of high biodiversity value on its lands.

CL3: Encourage community involvement in ecological restoration activities on public lands

Y

Y

Y

Y

National contestable fund available to community groups.

CL4: Acquisition of areas of biodiversity value

 

Y

 

Y

Monies can be raised through rates increases.

6.Council infrastructure development and maintenance

7. Council bio security work

8. Accessing expertise

 

Choosing an appropriate mix of tools

The following factors will influence the methods a council chooses to manage indigenous biodiversity:

  • the characteristics of indigenous biodiversity present (species, populations, ecological associations and ecosystems), along with their distribution, abundance and condition
  • threats to that biodiversity, including the type and level of development pressures
  • the characteristics of the indigenous biodiversity in legally protected areas compared with the indigenous biodiversity that is not legally protected
  • the resources that the council is able to access, including staff expertise
  • community and landowner knowledge about indigenous biodiversity and attitudes about how it should be managed.

Each council should undertake an analysis of their situation to help them select the most appropriate mix of tools and their relative weighting. There is no single ‘best practice’ combination of tools that would address the circumstances of all councils. In some cases, it may be appropriate to divide a region or district into unit types that identify the type and intensity of development pressures and the state of remaining biodiversity.

Other appropriate actions towards maintaining indigenous biodiversity could include:

  • infrastructure development and management (eg, roading, water supply, wastewater management)
  • management of lands owned by a council, including water supply catchments, forestry lands, parks and reserves (including esplanade and other reserves as well as unformed public roads along water margins)
  • biosecurity administration and management
  • natural hazard management.

A biodiversity strategy or action plan developed jointly between regional and district councils and the community can provide a rigorous basis for a council to determine the priority actions and funding for the circumstances.