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Superb or suburb - case studies in icon landscapes

Superb or suburb - case studies in icon landscapes

People want to live in beautiful surroundings. We enjoy being close to the beach. Living in the bush allows us to escape the busyness of the city. 'But the unbridled march of housing up our coasts and across our hills is destroying some of the values that drew people in the first place' says Dr Morgan Williams, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

'This is not an issue that New Zealand faces on its own. The world over, natural and cultural heritage areas are being threatened by their own popularity.' A report released today, Superb or suburb? International case studies in management of icon landscapes, looks at what we can learn from overseas experience.

The Oak Ridges Moraine in Ontario, Canada is managed by area specific legislation. It is a significant natural feature, important for water supply and an essential component of the 'greenspace' system in Ontario.

The Cape Peninsula in South Africa has high conservation value because of its biodiversity and the great number of endemic plant species. The area faces particular pressure from tourism and the poverty of the local population.

The Peak District in the United Kingdom encompasses a National Park and a rural landscape valued for its traditional farming practices. It is close to large urban populations where people want to live and play outside of the city.

Some of the values of these areas are not well protected by the market and in all three case studies government intervention was required. Private land is subject to strong planning controls to prevent ecological and human experience values being compromised by the cumulative effects of development. A balance is sought between a lived in, working environment to support economic activity and protection of core areas and specific features.

Community ownership and a shared vision for the region are key ingredients to success. The best results come when residents, businesses, community groups, environmental interests, recreational users and the public agencies work together. Common mechanisms include public-private partnerships, incentives for private landowners to enhance public values, and investment in public education.

This report is a follow-up to Managing change in paradise: sustainable development in peri-urban areas. The findings of this report show that some fundamental shifts in planning approaches in New Zealand are required to prevent the loss of valued living environments.

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