Tiaki Taiao – Significant Natural Areas and Landscapes
We have been working to identify important natural areas, native bush and landscapes in Upper Hutt. Before we undertake a Plan Change we want to make sure we have identified the right areas and the values within them.
Over the last three months we’ve been engaging with landowners and the wider community to discuss the important natural areas, native bush and landscapes in Upper Hutt (Plan Change 48) in more detail.
Big thanks to those who took the time to engage with us and provide feedback. We:
- Received 204 enquiries
- Carried out 77 site visits (with another 18 booked for the New Year)
- Held 12 meetings held at Council
- Attended 6 community meetings
What is Tiaki Taiao?
Tiaki Taiao means taking care of our environment and natural heritage. This reflects the process we are undertaking now to identify important natural landscapes, features, or areas of land with special wildlife, plants, and trees that are native and important to the biodiversity of our city.
To qualify sites need to:
- be a natural ecosystem that is no longer commonplace; or
- have biological or physical features that are scarce or threatened; or
- have diverse ecology, species and physical features; or
- connect ecosystems or habitats for rare indigenous species; or
- have significance to Tangata Whenua; or
- be dominated by natural elements, patterns and processes in order to be considered outstanding natural features and landscapes; or
- be highly valued by the community with dominant natural elements, patterns and processes but where the landscape is clearly modified by human activity, to be considered a special amenity landscape.
Where are these areas?
We have identified 100 areas with significant biodiversity. We have also identified three outstanding natural landscapes and five special amenity landscapes. Most of these areas are on public land such as reserves and regional parks. However, there are also areas within private land.
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Who can I talk to so I can find out more?
If you want to find out more then please contact us on the number below, our administrator will arrange a call back from one of our planners. We can also arrange for an ecologist to come out and visit your property, these sessions are generally on a site by site basis with our ecologist and a planner, we can also arrange to meet small groups in a local area together. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a session.
Phone: (04) 527 2175
Why do we need to do this?
This work is part of a nationwide Resource Management Act (RMA) requirement involving all Councils. Councils are at different stages of introducing policies to protect these habitats. We are at the very start of the process to the update the District Plan (Plan Change 48) which will be further consulted on next year.
Right now we are seeking feedback from landowners and the community on how to protect these area and make sure we have the right areas identified. We’ll then consider the feedback and prepare a change to the district plan next year.
Q: What are Outstanding Natural Features and Landscapes?
A: Natural landscapes and features that are exceptional with natural components that dominate over the influence of human activity. They are assessed as part of a landscape evaluation process, taking into account factors such as natural science, sensory elements and the shared and recognised values of these areas.
Q: What is a Special Amenity Landscape?
A: These landscapes are distinctive, widely recognised and highly valued areas where the natural components are dominant or they may be exceptional landscape areas but have been modified by human activity. The evaluation process takes into account factors such as natural science, sensory elements and the shared and recognised values of these areas.
Q: How did you get ecological information about my property?
A: Ecologists completed a desktop study that was based mainly on aerial imagery, local site references and public viewing spots. We have since written to people with land in one of these areas, asking them to let us know if they think there is anything not right about the information we have. We are also very happy to have one of our ecologists come and visit.
Q: Why did I get a letter?
A: From what we can tell from the aerial mapping and assessment work, your property appears to include an area of land with native bush or features with important biodiversity. We’re writing because we want to check that the information we have is correct, and ask you how we can work together.
Q: Why have I received more than one map?
A: As well as native bush and habitats, Councils are asked to identify outstanding landscapes and amenities that are special to the community. If you received more than one map, you have more than one of the type of important landscape or significant biodiversity.
Q: How were Significant Natural Areas identified?
A: We worked with ecological specialists Wildlands to map Upper Hutt’s threatened indigenous flora and fauna based on Department of Conservation classification. We also talked to local iwi.
Policy 23 of the Regional Policy Statement for the Wellington region states ‘District and regional plans shall identify and evaluate indigenous ecosystems and habitats with significant indigenous biodiversity values; these ecosystems and habitats will be considered significant if they meet one or more of the following criteria:
Representativeness: the ecosystems or habitats that are typical and characteristic examples of the full range of the original or current natural diversity of ecosystem and habitat types in a district or in the region, and:
- Are no longer commonplace (less than about 30 % remaining)
- Are poorly represented in existing protected areas (less than about 20 % legally protected)
Rarity: the ecosystem or habitat has biological or physical features that are scarce or threatened in a local, regional, or national context. This can include individual species, rare and distinctive biological communities and physical features that are unusual or rare.
Diversity: the ecosystem or habitat has a natural diversity of ecological units, ecosystems, species and physical features within an area
Ecological context of an area: the ecosystem or habitat:
- Enhances connectivity or otherwise buffers representative, rare or diverse indigenous ecosystems and habitats, or
- Provides seasonal or core habitat for protected or threatened indigenous species
Tangata Whenua Values: the ecosystem or habitat contains characteristics of special spiritual, historical or cultural significance to tangata whenua, identified in accordance with Tikanga Māori'.
Q: How were the landscape areas identified?
A: We worked with landscape specialists Isthmus to map Upper Hutt’s outstanding natural features and landscapes and special amenity landscapes. The methodology is based on current landscape best practice, case law and the Regional Policy Statement criteria (Policy 25) which requires the natural science, sensory and shared and recognised factors of the district to be assessed. The assessment also considered historic and tangata whenua values and included input from local iwi. More detail on the method for identifying the landscape areas is included in the landscape assessment report by Isthmus.
Q: Who can I talk to?
A: We can answer your questions over the phone, or in person. You can also give our administrator a call, or send us an e-mail.
Phone: (04) 527 2175
Q: What are the next steps?
We’re working through the feedback now. Here’s what will happen next:
- Provide an update to each landowner that requested a site visit, and confirm any changes to the draft overlay area. We expect to complete this before the end of January 2021.
In May, we’ll share the draft policy and rule framework that will support the plan change.
We expect to notify the plan change formally in the second half of 2021 in accordance with the Resource Management Act.
All landowners will be contacted and will have the opportunity to make a submission on the proposed plan change when it is notified.
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