The Doubtless Bay, Waihou and Waipoua Rivers in Northland are part of DOC’s Ngā Awa river restoration programme. This report addresses two of the programme’s identified knowledge gaps: how to address climate change resilience in river restoration and understanding socio-economic drivers in the catchments.
The report focussed on economic initiatives identified in the 2019 Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan and applied market and non-market values to freshwater health, river restoration and climate change planning.
The total economic value (TEV) of different land use practices is a metric that includes ecosystem service values. Data from international studies showed that river catchments are the second most valuable land type – wetlands are the most valuable. Horticultural land use can also have a high TEV but agricultural land uses are lower and more varied. The report notes that the TEV does not take water use into account and that New Zealand-specific data is lacking in this area.
Information on population and land use trends in the catchments is presented as well as GDP earnings and employment by different types of business. While manufacturing is Northland’s largest GDP-generator (15%), tourism makes up almost 7% of the economy and supports a significant proportion of employment and GDP in the Doubtless Bay and Waipoua river catchments.
This investigation noted the following opportunities for economic growth. These consider climate change projections and are in line with the goals of Ngā Awa:
- restoration of the rivers, as they support many ecosystem services
- establishing stands of tōtara in riparian river corridors and on steep land under the Emissions Trading Scheme
- creating new opportunities for tourism and recreation including walking and cycling trails
- production of mānuka and kānuka oil and honey (kānuka is expected to grow better in Northland as climate change progresses).