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Explainer: Understanding SNAs And The NPSIB

Ahead of tomorrow’s hikoi in the Far North, and the Far North District Council’s online forum on Significant Natural Areas (SNAs), Forest & Bird has made an FAQ available to provide reliable information for media and landowners.

Forest & Bird’s ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ resource is linked here.

The RMA has required councils to protect significant natural areas (SNAs) since 1991. This requirement hasn’t changed, and is the existing process by which district councils are currently mapping SNAs. Many councils around the country have already done this work (Porirua, Rotorua, Taranaki, Timaru) and others are part way through the process (the Far North, Mackenzie, Wellington, Southland).

The aim of the draft NPSIB is to resolve 30 years of long and costly litigation over what counts as ‘significant’, and what ‘protection’ means, and to end the continued loss of vitally important areas of nature.

The NPSIB will benefit landowners by clarifying what's ‘in’ and what's ‘out’, reducing costs and red tape for both landowners and councils. Forest & Bird's expectation is that supporting measures will be made available to help with the process of identifying and protecting SNAs.

Māori have a vital role as kaitiaki of their whenua and an abiding interest in the health of their environment. The draft NPSIB recognises this. Unlike the status quo, the draft NPSIB provides exemptions for new activities on Māori land - as defined by Te Ture Whenua Act 1993 - while still allowing for the need to protect important wildlife and habitat.

As confirmed by successive Ministry for the Environment reports, New Zealand is in the midst of a biodiversity crisis, and habitat loss on private land is a key driver of this. The NPSIB should uphold mana whenua, land owners’ rights and responsibilities, and the urgent need to protect Aotearoa New Zealand’s remaining significant biodiversity.

Read the draft National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity here.

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