Natural Environment Recovery Programme under way
October 4, 2013
Natural Environment Recovery Programme under way
Environment Canterbury announced today that it has adopted the Natural Environment Recovery Programme for greater Christchurch.
Chair of Commissioners Dame Margaret Bazley says the programme ensures rehabilitation of the natural environment following the earthquakes. “This is very important for the future wellbeing of all Cantabrians - our natural environment is a fundamental part of our shared heritage and culture,” Dame Margaret said.
“Many of us choose to live in or near Christchurch because we appreciate and value the natural environment - the rivers, the beaches and harbours, the forests and Port Hills - and the activities these special places provide.
“We now better understand the consequences of living on land that is subject to rockfall, liquefaction or flooding. We want to improve the water quality and ecosystem health of rivers, streams, wetlands and estuaries. We recognise the many opportunities to improve recreation facilities during the rebuild and recovery.”
Successful recovery requires effective collaboration and co-ordination. Environment Canterbury was asked by the Minister for Earthquake Recovery, Gerry Brownlee, to lead development of the programme in partnership with Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Christchurch City Council, Waimakariri District Council, Selwyn District Council and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority. Ngā Papatipu Rūnanga, the Canterbury District Health Board and the Department of Conservation were also instrumental in its development.
“A number of organisations that are already engaged in protecting and advocating for the natural environment will be deeply involved in its implementation. This level of participation will help ensure the community’s priorities for their surroundings are delivered.
“We look forward to working with many organisations and the wider community, all of whom are vitally interested in the future of our natural environment,” Dame Margaret said.
The Natural Environment Recovery Programme was initiated through the Recovery Strategy for greater Christchurch. It acknowledges the links between the natural environment and recovery, and integrates with other recovery programmes and objectives.
Seventeen work streams led by different organisations have been included in the programme to reflect priorities identified by the community. “For example, there is a strong community desire for land made available being used to provide for recreation and parks,” Dame Margaret said.
“I am confident that this programme will help greatly in fostering an environment that all those living in greater Christchurch appreciate, value and respect. The partners look forward to working with our communities on the natural environment recovery projects that matter most to them.”
Greater Christchurch is defined in the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 as the districts of Christchurch City Council, Selwyn District Council and Waimakariri District Council, and includes the coastal marine area adjacent to these districts.
The focus of the Natural Environment Recovery Programme is on areas most affected by the earthquakes - generally the catchments of the spring-fed streams (Halswell/Huritini, Heathcote/Ōpāwaho, Avon/Ōtākaro, Styx/Pūrākaunui, and Kaiapoi) and the Port Hills. There was less impact on the natural environment on Banks Peninsula and in inland areas.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Tā Mark Solomon welcomes the Natural Environment Recovery Programme. Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu has been working closely with Environment Canterbury in developing this programme. Tā Mark says the mahinga kai project is important. “As part of this project we will look at how we keep our waterways clean and healthy, and how we can get our mahinga kai back. Whitebaiting is something we did traditionally and which Cantabrians have come to embrace too. Healthy waterways and the right habitat will encourage the whitebait back, so we see this as an opportunity to add value to our city by sharing Ngāi Tahu values, traditional mahinga kai practices and heritage. We look forward to being part of the environment rebuild and advancing our relationships with key stakeholders and the wider community.”
Councillor Claudia Reid, chair of Christchurch City Council‘s Environment and Infrastructure Committee, says the biggest opportunity for the city in the Natural Environment Recovery Programme is the potential to improve the quality of waters in urban rivers and streams, including the estuaries. “We are working to align the City's stormwater management planning with the land drainage recovery work to realise this opportunity. We’re also engaging with Environment Canterbury on what would be the best regulatory framework for stormwater across the city - the mix of city and private stormwater consents and most effective approach to the global consents.”
Waimakariri Mayor David Ayers says the adoption of the Natural Environment Recovery Programme by Environment Canterbury is welcome news. “The earthquakes have had, and the recovery has potential to have, considerable impacts on our natural environment. This programme enables us to see the way forward in protecting and enhancing it and is an important facet of greater Christchurch’s recovery.”
“Everyone in Canterbury wants to see our lakes, rivers and natural environment restored following the earthquakes and the adoption of this plan is an important step towards seeing this happen,” says Selwyn Mayor Kelvin Coe.
More details can be found at: www.ecan.govt.nz/nerp