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Significant Ecological Areas identified

16 June 2004

Significant Ecological Areas identified in Auckland isthmus

Auckland City is moving closer to ‘greening the city’ with the identification of ninety-four significant ecological areas within the isthmus which are proposed for scheduling and protection.

The areas were identified as a result of extensive investigation following a council decision in 2001 to safeguard significant ecological areas within the Auckland isthmus.

The chairperson of the City Development Committee, Councillor Juliet Yates, says, “This new recognition of significant ecological areas will help educate and inform the public of our natural heritage.”

Plan change 88 is being proposed to protect natural areas which significantly contribute to the ecological quality and diversity of the district, and fulfils Auckland City’s obligations under the Resource Management Act 1991 for the maintenance of indigenous biodiversity.

Sites identified in the schedule have been assessed against a range of criteria including: the natural diversity of species, natural communities and ecosystems the importance of the area to indigenous fauna the rarity of the ecosystem or community the presence of threatened species the importance of the area to maintaining water quality in freshwater and saline environments.

While most of the sites identified for protection are on public land, five per cent are on private land, which borders onto public land. In scheduling these sites the council is acknowledging the high level of care and protection landowners have already invested.

The proposed plan change allows reasonable development to occur on these sites, while at the same time, ensuring the protection of ecological values. Development proposals will be subject to resource consent applications and will be assessed in terms of any effects on the natural values of the site. Many of the privately owned sites are already subdivided and these protection measures will not prevent reasonable development on private land.

The proposed plan change will be publicly notified on Sunday 20 June and a month long submission period will follow. Details of the proposed plan change outlining the sites recommended for scheduling, along with maps and information on making a submission will be available on the Auckland City website www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/isthmusdistrictplan.

There are many ecological sites on private land within the isthmus which are worthy of protection, but have not been classified for scheduling at this time. If you are a private landowner and consider that you have a significant ecological area on your property, you may wish to contact the council to discuss appropriate ways of maintaining the area.

“While many Aucklanders are already taking a proactive stewardship role over ecological areas on their own land, more formal protection measures can ensure that these sites will remain protected in perpetuity,” says Mrs Yates.

“This plan change and protection measures are in line with our ‘greening the city’ strategy which aims to achieve a better and more beautiful Auckland, and protect our unique and natural environments,” says Mrs Yates. “Rules within the plan strike a balance between protecting the indigenous ecological values and allowing for routine maintenance and minor works.

“Within the vision of ‘greening the city’ and Auckland’s urban living strategy the council’s intention is to accommodate Auckland’s growing population while ensuring our natural environment is protected,” says Mrs Yates. “We can achieve these outcomes by focusing on the future and at the same time protecting our natural heritage.”

ENDS

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