Ecosystems and indigenous biodiversity

New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity evolution is exceptional and unique. However, it has been adversely affected by a variety of human activities. Waitaki’s remaining indigenous biodiversity is fragmented and indigenous species continue to decline. A direct cause of indigenous biodiversity and habitat loss is vegetation clearance. Indirect causes include inconsistent rules and poor enforcement of Plan provisions.

KEY ISSUES

► Regional policy requires identification of areas of indigenous vegetation and habitats within the Waitaki District. Not all areas of indigenous vegetation and habitats have been identified – this makes management, protection and enhancement difficult.
► Subdivision of land containing SNA areas can lead to fragmentation, this can lead to loss of biodiversity values.
► Areas of indigenous vegetation and habitats continue to decline in Waitaki.
► Habitat loss and modification often occurs through land use change, for example, clearance of indigenous vegetation/draining wetlands to break in new paddocks or create a new subdivision – there needs to be a balancing between recognition and protection of values and the working rural environments.
► Habitat degradation and indigenous species loss as a result of domestic and wild grazing animals, for example, minimal regeneration of threatened tree species due to browsing of seedlings by livestock and rabbits.
► Climate change causing increased drought frequencies – impacts at all levels of the ecosystem.

DRAFT RESPONSES TO KEY ISSUES

► Identification of Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) on public and private land using site surveys and aerial photos and historic data where access has been denied.
► Consult with landowners that have had both a ground based verification survey, and those which have been identified by desktop survey about inclusion of their SNAs in the District Plan.
► Investigate the provision of a financial incentive (eg. rates relief, transferable development rights) for those landowners who have SNAs listed in the District Plan.
► Improve the effectiveness and application of current indigenous vegetation rules including definitions.
► Encourage landowners to protect and enhance areas of indigenous biodiversity, and support them in a co-operative manner by considering a range of options and protection mechanisms such as biodiversity management plans.
► Encourage retention of SNA areas within one land parcel by introducing specific subdivision rules where SNA’s have been identified.