St James Conservation Area
Image: DOC 

Introduction

DOC manages stewardship areas under the Conservation Act 1987 to protect their natural and historic values.

Stewardship areas were allocated to DOC when it was formed in 1987. They were former State forest and Crown land areas that were considered to be more appropriately managed for their conservation values by DOC. The intention was that DOC would act as a steward of these areas until their destiny was determined.

Around 30% of conservation land is stewardship land, approximately 2,508,000 ha – 9% of New Zealand.

Read an update on DOC's work following the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's report into the management and administration of stewardship land.

Report on stewardship land

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, released her report into the management and administration of stewardship land on 21 August 2013.
See Investigating the future of conservation: The case of stewardship land.

On 9 April 2015 the Commissioner released an update assessing the response to her recommendations.
See Update report: Investigating the future of conservation: The case of stewardship land.

Following on from this report the Minister of Conservation asked the New Zealand Conservation Authority (NZCA) for advice on the principles and processes that should be used in respect to land exchanges when making decisions on net conservation benefits. The NZCA provided this advice to the Minister and she has since asked DOC to refer to this advice in all land decisions.
See NZCA's advice on stewardship land and assessing net conservation benefit.

Update on DOC's work on stewardship land – March 2017

This is an update on DOC's work following the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's report into the management and administration of stewardship land.

Progress on the two special reclassification projects

The reclassification of stewardship land in the St James - Poplars area in North Canterbury and Mokihinui area of the Buller District have recommenced. It is expected that this work will be completed by the end of this year.

Reclassification work for next five years

DOC is developing a plan which will set out the reclassification work for the next five years. This plan will focus on stewardship land with significant conservation values. This plan (in draft form) was referred to conservation boards with a request that they submit their top five candidates for reclassification. The majority of conservation boards have provided their five candidates and this information together with a presentation about a range of analyses of the characteristics stewardship land was considered by the NZCA on 5 and 6 December 2016.

The NZCA has given conservation boards an opportunity for further comment in particular on the matter of prioritising the candidates and DOC is currently engaging with a number of national organisations, including Federated Mountain Clubs of NZ, Forest & Bird, Federated Farmers, Queen Elizabeth II National Trust and the Iwi Conservation Leadership Group.

DOC is expected to report back to the NZCA in June 2017 with the list of candidates in priority order.

Reclassification of land purchased

DOC is continuing to progress the reclassification of seven areas of land previously purchased by the Nature Heritage Fund, as well as some adjoining stewardship land. It is expected that most of this work will be concluded by the middle of 2017.

Other work

DOC is carrying out other statutory driven land transaction work associated with the various pieces of legislation it administers. This includes acquisitions, easements, covenants, reserve classifications and land exchanges.

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