Stewardship land was allocated to DOC when it was formed in 1987. ‘Stewardship’ is a conservation category which provides protection based on the natural and historic values of the land. Around 30% of conservation areas are held in stewardship – over 2.7 million hectares or 9% of New Zealand’s total land area.
In May 2021, the Government announced a two-part project to accelerate the review and reclassification of stewardship land. It included:
- the establishment of national panels to provide technical assessments and make recommendations to the Minister of Conservation for the reclassification of stewardship land
- legislative change to support the panels and streamline the reclassification process
This Regulatory Impact Statement assesses options for the proposed legislative amendments to streamline the reclassification process. Five options for legislative change are assessed and compared with the status quo:
- shorten the minimum public notification period to reclassify or dispose of stewardship land from 40 to 20 working days
- enable the National Panels to carry out the statutory steps leading up to, and including, making recommendations to the Minister of Conservation to reclassify stewardship land
- enable the National Panels to make recommendations to reclassify stewardship land as national park, in consultation with the New Zealand Conservation Authority and relevant Conservation Boards
- declare that land under section 62 of the Conservation Act 1987 is held for conservation purposes under section 7 of the Act
- enable the proceeds of sale of stewardship land to be directed to DOC to offset the costs associated with readying stewardship land for disposal, with any surplus proceeds returned to the Crown.