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Increasing vegetative cover across all land

First published in Energy and Environment on November 28, 2019.

The proposed National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity will require councils to have targets for increased vegetative cover in their regions.

The target must be at least 10% in urban areas, “recognising that in these areas, ecosystems are particularly depleted”. For rural or non-urban areas, if the region has less than 10% vegetative cover, the regional council must also set a target for increasing vegetative cover. This target, and the timeframe for achieving it, can be set by the council.

The proposed NPSIB encourages regional councils to also consider targets for urban and non-urban areas where existing vegetative cover is already over 10%.

Targets must be supported in regional plans to promote the restoration, enhancement and reconstruction of indigenous vegetation. Councils would prioritise areas that a council has identified for restoration such as enhancing degraded Significant Natural Areas, connections, buffers and wetlands.

As well as areas representative of ecosystems naturally species richness and landscape-scale restoration and enhancement across the region.

To drive this all councils will have to include objectives, policies or methods in plans and regional biodiversity strategies to achieve their targets. Amendments are proposed to clarify how the policy should be reflected in council plans.

“Restoration in depleted areas may include non-regulatory methods and volunteer activities. Planting may also be a regulatory activity as part of consent conditions.”

• The document says increasing vegetative cover in urban and peri-urban areas can have a wide range of benefits, including:

• supporting mental health and wellbeing

• enhancing recreation opportunities

• carbon sequestration and climate amelioration

• improving water and air quality

• reconnecting urban dwellers to their natural environment

• developing a more liveable and aesthetically attractive urban centre.
First published in Energy and Environment on November 28, 2019.

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