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CRMS stands by report on DoC shortcomings

CRMS stands by report on DoC shortcomings


2 September 2005

The NZ Labour Party’s response to the Centre for Resource Management Studies’ recently published report on the role of DoC paints of picture of high satisfaction and happiness with the administration of New Zealand’s Conservation Estate.

However the Centre stands by its report and believes Conservation Minister Chris Carter is refusing to take into account commonsense views.

“Mr Carter must not be hearing what the stakeholders in our natural capital have to say,” says Director of the Centre for Resource Management Studies, Owen McShane.

"Half the land" or 30%?

The last accurate assessment of land under DoC direct control and management was 35% of the North Island and 55% of the South Island. This was prior to the completion of the High Country tenure review which is an ongoing process and can increase the land under Conservation estate substantially from one day to the next.

DoC continues to buy land as it becomes available. For example it has just purchased two farms from Landcorp.

So the best estimate of the DoC estate at the time of writing was something over 40% – and possibly ending up as high as 45% on completion of the High Country Tenure Review.

However, for the purposes of this paper, we have also taken into account those lands which are in private property but which are effectively controlled by DoC through designation and other processes of the RMA.

DoC has required the designation of substantial areas of private land as Significant Natural Areas or Significant Ecological Units. The use of such lands is seriously curtailed. It is difficult to measure these areas, but one estimate of such designated land in a Proposed Far North District Plan was one third of private farm land in the region.

Further, the Department is responsible for the Coastal Plans under the RMA and the Minister has powers of veto over developments in certain Coastal Areas within those plans. A recent example was the veto of the Hopper Development Marina development in the Bay of Plenty. (See section 38 RMA for details).

It is difficult to measure the areas of land captured under these coastal plans but it must be at least 5% of the land area of New Zealand, and maybe much more.

Hence the estimate that one half of New Zealand is under DoC management or control is a reasonable one to make.

“If someone ever got round to accurately measuring all the land in which DoC ‘manages’ totally or by veto power or simply by legal participation, the total may

prove to be only 49% – but is more likely to be much more than 50% percent,” Says McShane.

“We have not even considered the area within marine parks which DoC intends to expand dramatically” he says.

However, whether the true figure is 30% or 60% is not really the issue.

“The issue is how such land should be managed and by whom. Surely this amount of land should be managed transparently and taking into account competing interests?” asks McShane.

Natural Capital

A 1982 World Bank study put New Zealand second only to Saudi Arabia in terms of natural capital per capita in the world. And yet we are ranked at around the 24 mark in the OECD rankings. We are natural resource rich, but we are not managing these resources efficiently or effectively. Furthermore, the Crown Minerals Group within the Ministry of Economic Development, in its own submission to DoC on DoC's General Policy, states 80% of New Zealand's known minerals are eclipsed by the DoC estate. But as we know under DoC's preserve and protect mandate, New Zealand's common minerals property is continually and effectively discounted to zero!

A 2002 independent NZIER economic study - Quantifying the Opportunity Cost of New Zealand's Mineral Potential - built on a 1999 GNS study of New Zealand's mineral potential using a computable general equilibrium model of the New Zealand economy. It made the following key findings.

By 2015:

New Zealand has the minerals resource potential to sustain an increase in output to more than $2 billion per year Employment potential of more than 25,000 jobs Overall household incomes increase by 1.7% Overall exports increase by 4%

Longer term:

GDP growth of 2.9% possible. Potential for overall export growth of 7%. Employment potential of 35,000 jobs. Households would be 2.3% better off.

Both scenarios can be achieved without access to national parks and other sensitive areas that are now closed to mining.

Minerals currently contribute around 1% GDP; 4,000 direct jobs; and 8,000 indirect jobs.

Petroleum Resources on Conservation Land

The New Zealand Labour party press release says "there are no significant petroleum resources on conservation land."

How do they know? It has not been explored. "Petroleum resources" include both oil and natural gas. It would take some courage to wager that no oil or gas will ever be found within the Conservation state, especially when the term is expanded to include all the designated land in private ownership and future marine reserves.

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