New Zealand Law Society - Proposed National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity

Proposed National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity

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Information about a proposed new National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity has been released by the Ministry for the Environment in a discussion document.

Public consultation on the proposals closes at 5pm on 14 March 2020.

The document, He Kura Koiora i hokia, says reversing the decline of indigenous biodiversity is a complex objective that will require a toolkit of measures implemented over a sustained period.

"A new Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy is being developed to set the vision and targets for looking after our natural environment at a strategic level. This strategy will look at how all relevant tools, both regulatory (such as the proposed National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity) and non-regulatory, can work together to improve biodiversity outcomes in New Zealand.

"An NPSIB is an essential instrument to protect indigenous biodiversity, particularly where it is nationally or regionally significant, and/or threatened with extinction, and where it is not protected through the Conservation or Reserves Acts."

The document says the proposed National Policy Statement is complementary to other priorities of the current Government and intends to support existing good practice, innovation and collaboration.

It notes that while the Resource Management Act 1991 requires councils to manage indigenous biodiversity, the current approaches vary in style, from being stated in plans or through resource consent conditions. It says this has resulted in uncertainty and debate for councils and communities, and litigation that is costly and time-consuming for councils, landowners, tangata whenua, and community groups.

"The proposed NPSIB is intended to give consistency to councils’ interpretations and application of the RMA. This will result in more consistency in councils’ monitoring and management approaches, and result in better outcomes for biodiversity."