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Trans Tasman's Political Pulse - August 09, 2017

Trans Tasman's Political Pulse - August 09, 2017


09 August, 2017

DoC may stop having to manage low-value Conservation land.

Assigning The Forgotten 10%
Of NZ Land Its Rightful Status

INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NEWS - Thirty years of uncertainty about the status of 10% of NZ’s land area may finally become clearer by the end of the year.

As reported in trans-Tasman’s sister publication, the NZ Energy & Environment Business Alert, the plan for the reclassification of the Department of Conservation’s stewardship land is set to come closer to finalisation in December.

Stewardship land comprises about 2.8m ha, about a third of the Conservation estate, or 10% of NZ. About 70% of stewardship land is in the South Island, including 850,000ha on the West Coast and 400,000ha in Canterbury.

When DoC was set up in 1987 the land in question was to be assessed and reclassified. The clear intention in creating stewardship areas was to protect them from development or extractive use until their conservation value could be established, the appropriate form of protection chosen; unless of course the conservation values were found to be inadequate, when the area would be disposed of.

This has not happened and since 2013 the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, has been urging the Govt to bring some closure to the issue. By May 2016, DoC had drafted a five-year plan for reclassifying stewardship land, with emphasis on stewardship lands of high conservation value.

DoC presented a national list of stewardship land to be reclassified to the Conservation Authority in December 2016. At the authority’s request, DoC sent the presentation to the conservation boards so that they could check the designations in their own areas. The list was expected to be finalised by June this year. It will form the basis of the five-year plan, which DOC expects to be completed by December.

Stewardship land is the only category of Conservation land that can be sold. However, there have been very few sales, though many small areas of stewardship land have since been swapped for other, generally larger, areas of private land.

The reclassification has the prospect of freeing up low-value Conservation land for other use, while finally giving more protected status to Conservation land of high value. Either way it has been a long time coming.

Trans Tasman’s sister publication, NZ Energy & Environment Business Alert, is a weekly source providing you with in-depth news, analysis and opinion on NZ’s energy and environment sectors.

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