Submitted 7 September 2016: Read the NZCA's submission on the Conservation and Environment Roadmap

1.  The Legislative Basis for the New Zealand Conservation Authority submission

The New Zealand Conservation Authority (NZCA) was established under the Conservation Act 1987.

The NZCA has a range of powers and functions, under the Conservation Act 1987, as well as under other conservation related legislation. Under the Conservation Act, Section 6C (2) (c), the NZCA has the power to “advocate the interests of the Authority at any public forum or in any statutory planning process.”

One of the functions of the NZCA is to investigate any nature conservation or other conservation matters it considers are of national importance and to advise the Minister or the Director-General of Conservation, as appropriate. The NZCA sees the development of a roadmap to drive conservation and environment science for the next 20 years to be a conservation matter of national importance.

One of the NZCA’s statutory functions is to approve conservation management strategies and conservation management plans, and review and amend such strategies and plans. They constitute the key management documents for directing conservation effort and resources in NZ. Many of these documents have objectives, policies and outcomes relying on strategic science decision-making.

The NZCA also has a function to investigate and advise the Minister or the Director-general on any conservation matter. The delivery of a roadmap to drive sound conservation and environmental science is seen to fall under ‘any conservation matter”.

2.  Conservation and Environment Science Roadmap - The NZCA position and suggestions

The following submissions are the NZCA’s main concerns about the roadmap

Export earnings

The Conservation and Environment Roadmap could make a stronger case for substantial export earnings being derived from New Zealand experience, IP and innovation and conservation management. Dr Mick Abbott’s presentation to the EDS Wild Places conference outlined a range of examples and channels by which this can be achieved (see last section of slides from Wild Places: Our Unique Innovation Hub).

An aspirational 2035 target could specifically identify a target for conservation/environment related export earnings. Essentially, New Zealand does not appreciate the potential economic value of its practices or IP to other nations. This could be facilitated through arrangements, in today’s terms, such as G2G. We must think about this IP/technology broadly – from clothing to waste disposal from cold alpine environments, where biodegradation is slow (as per the recent Sustainable Summits Conference on Mt Aoraki where the following points were made:

  1. Human waste lasts for a long time in glacial environments. It eventually comes out somewhere and will pollute downstream waters.
  2. Carry-out policies for human waste at high use sites is about both the environmental concerns and preserving the experience for others. An opportunity exists at present to use carry-out at the new Mid Tasman NZAC hut.
  3. As use increases in alpine places and in the busy mountain front country tourist sites costs of dealing with human waste will go up. There is a need to get more innovative with how this issue is dealt with.)

Ecosystem services

Making the “invisible visible” in relation to the ecosystem services generated through natural capital is an inexorable trend. It is clear that more attention needs to be given to developing the economic theories/paradigms to account for natural capital. The presentation by Dr Girol Karacaoglu at the EDS Wild Places conference sets out the Treasury’s framework for considering the integration of the various capitals within a livelihood (wellbeing) framework (Wellbeing, Natural Capital, and Sustainability). As Dr Karacaoglu expounded, economists had moved from the environment being an extractive resource to today acknowledging that its sustenance is essential for the future wellbeing and survival of humankind. However, importantly for environmentalists, natural resources are still viewed as being substitutable – there is a solid rationale for this and, given the pressure on some natural capital stocks, technology or other substitutes should continue to be explored/developed. One could envisage more attention being paid to economic research and the challenges of designing effective and efficient public policy to achieve sustainable stewardship of natural resources. The difficulties of doing so are currently reflected by the National Framework for Fresh Water Management and the ETS.

The opportunity for the roadmap is to get a stronger alignment with the Treasury model and, with (1) (above), drive stronger policy and investment incentives to get economic, biodiversity and well-being gains.

Climate Change

The present Roadmap appears to under-sell the opportunity associated with climate change – the conservation estate provides one of the largest opportunities to store carbon and concurrently protect biodiversity.  This may require the recategorisation of conservation lands and different evaluation of business models to ensure offset expenditure is retained in New Zealand and facilitates regional economic growth.


The current roadmap could comment further on the future tourism (ie “What could it look like in 2035 and what science is needed to enable this?”) – high value lower volume and the need to formally plan at a regional scale (versus place) growth in earnings through tourism. New Zealand does not currently have a coherent long term tourism strategy, and one could envisage significant research being required to better understand how tourism and conservation can be co-managed in order to achieve net conservation gains.

Matauranga Maori

We feel that matauranga Maori should be integrated into all the themes, rather than simply being a stand-alone theme on its own. There are clear cross-links between matauranga Maori and the other themes, all of which are greatly strengthened through an inclusive approach. Furthermore, if matauranga Maori were a theme on its own it risks becoming siloed when an inclusive approach is required. 

Background to the NZCA

The New Zealand Conservation Authority is established by the Conservation Act 1987, with members appointed by the Minister of Conservation. It has a range of functions, but primarily acts as an independent conservation advisor to the Minister and the Director-General. The Authority’s role has, in the past, been seen to be largely as a strategic advisor, but it has a growing role as an objective advocate on matters of national significance and interest in the conservation arena and, more recently, as a “board” to provide high quality independent advice to the Department of Conservation on its strategic direction and performance.

Current membership of the New Zealand Conservation Authority

In consultation with the Minister of Maori Affairs:

  • Waana Davis of Lower Hutt
  • Rauru Kirikiri of Wellington

In consultation with the Minister of Tourism:

  • Warren Parker of Rotorua
  • Mike Simm of Kerikeri

In consultation with the Minister of Local Government:

  • Jan Riddell of Winton

On the nomination of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu:

  • Sandra Cook of Otautau and Christchurch

On the recommendation of Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand:

  • Gerry McSweeney of South Westland and Arthurs Pass

On the recommendation of Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand:

  • David Barnes of Dunedin

On the recommendation of the Royal Society of New Zealand:

  • Mick Clout of Auckland

From public nominations:

  • Devon McLean of Nelson
  • Jo Breese of Wellington
  • Judy Hellstrom of the Marlborough Sounds
  • Mark Christensen of Christchurch
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