In the “Annual Report for year ended 30 June 2007

New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage is protected and restored.

The Department has a principal, but not exclusive, focus on natural and historic resources in areas it administers, and on species specifically protected by law. The Department also seeks to integrate its efforts with those of its associates and neighbours. Working with other land occupiers and the community to protect, maintain and restore terrestrial, freshwater and marine biodiversity is therefore an important component of the Department’s work in conserving natural values.

This section of the 2006–2007 Annual Report demonstrates how the Department’s work is achieving the high level outcome ‘Protection: New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage is protected and restored’. It provides information and case studies that track progress on the five intermediate outcomes identified in its Statement of Intent 2006–2009:

  1. The natural character of managed places is maintained or improved.
  2. The damage from harmful organisms established in New Zealand is reduced.
  3. Managed threatened species have a lower risk of extinction.
  4. A representative range of New Zealand’s environments is protected.
  5. A representative range of historic and cultural heritage is protected, restored
    and interpreted.

Figure 4: How protection work contributes to the Department’s vision.
Figure 4: How protection work contributes
to the Department’s vision (from the
Statement of Intent 2006-2009). View a
larger version of Figure 4 (PDF, 54K)

It also records progress toward the five key Protection initiatives identified for the 2006–2007 year.

The New Zealand archipelago is recognised globally as a hotspot of biological diversity. Many of its organisms, including the exceptionally diverse range of land snails, spiders, lizards and birds, are found nowhere else. Humans and their entourage of exotic plants and animals have greatly affected these islands, and continue to do so – while the modern challenges posed by biosecurity and climate change make the issues all the more complex to manage.

As New Zealanders become more aware of human impacts on their environment, with many choosing to alter their behaviour, the Department’s role in fostering a commitment to conservation comes increasingly to the fore, as it works to lead, guide and facilitate the needed changes on the land and marine environments it manages.

Working effectively is critical. To achieve the greatest progress toward its Protection outcomes with the resources available, it is vital that the Department makes wise choices on priorities, uses the most effective management techniques, and works co-operatively with the wider community.

To that end, this year a large effort has gone into developing new information-rich systems to support the conservation activities delivered by conservancies. Known as the Natural Heritage Management System, these will help decision-makers set clearer goals, choose priority actions, plan more consistently and transparently, and monitor the effectiveness of their management.

In its field operations, the Department further consolidated its shift toward integrated site-based management, rather than field programmes driven by a particular function (such as weed work) or species (for example, possum control). It is expected that working to clearer goals for a whole site, and integrating work to deliver those goals, will improve overall conservation outcomes.

This past year, the Department reinforced its work with neighbours (including farmers, local government and agencies such as the Animal Health Board), to make sure efforts are integrated and positive relationships help each party achieve its goals. And it maintained its support for community-led conservation groups. This partnership work harnesses energy to help achieve Departmental priorities, and contributes technical and other support to community groups to help achieve their conservation goals. With so much of New Zealand’s most at-risk native plants, animals and ecosystems now found on land not managed by the Department, it recognises that these relationships are a vital part of the journey toward sustaining New Zealand’s native biodiversity.

Another outreach opportunity that came to the fore in 2006–2007 was increased interest from commercial organisations wanting to contribute to conservation outcomes. The Department is putting effort into designing programmes, including sponsorship packages, that will meet both parties’ objectives – boosting the Department’s ability to achieve its outcomes while satisfying commercial organisations’ interests.

These two activities – working with communities and capitalising on commercial opportunities – are helping the Department meet its strategic direction of increasing the value of conservation to New Zealanders by entrenching conservation as an essential part of New Zealand’s sustainable social and economic future. They combine with the year’s operational, policy and strategic work, and efforts to build staff capability, in strengthening the Department’s ability to support the Government’s three priorities, in the following ways:

  • National identity – supported by improved natural and historic heritage.
  • Economic transformation – contributed to by a healthy environment, which provides ‘ecosystem services’ (benefits provided for free, such as clean water, flood control and soil retention).
  • Families, young and old – who benefit from well-managed natural and heritage sites that provide enjoyable recreation opportunities.

The Department’s progress toward the two high level outcome indicators for its protection work (as set out in the Statement of Intent 2006–2009) is reported below as part of this overview, following the discussion of capability. Progress toward the five intermediate protection outcomes, assessed against their indicators, is presented in the remainder of the Protection section, and summarised in Appendix A.

Improving capability

Fundamental to developing the Department’s natural heritage management systems, are the collection and collation of nationally consistent information on the state and condition of New Zealand’s natural heritage. Significant effort has been placed on developing the Department’s capability to spatially define (map) and describe all the Department’s natural heritage operational activities.

This annual mapping exercise supports the Department’s lead role as an effective manager of the lands, waters and species entrusted to it, by providing systems to support better decisions, manage risk, and optimise the conservation outcomes from its work. The clear representation of robust information (see Figures 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10) also improves internal and external communication about what the Department is doing, and where. Providing information spatially, on maps, will also enable the Department to:

Figure 5: Maps are a quick and effective way to represent planned weed work (left) and the actual area where weeds are controlled (right).
Figure 5: Maps are a quick and effective
way to represent planned weed work (left)
and the actual area where weeds are
controlled (right)

  • relate planned work to actual work, and improve how it describes and quantifies any variations.
  • support output and outcome performance reporting through transparent and auditable processes.
  • deliver core information to support the identification of vital sites, and the rationalisation of work programmes and their distribution across the Department.
  • easily access core information to audit planned work by relating resources and effort (dollars and hours) to operational activities.
  • provide core information so that it can better understand unit costs, assess cost effectiveness and improve budgeting.
  • evaluate progress towards departmental and Conservation Management Strategy goals by linking work activities with other spatial information.

Over the past year, the Department has also improved its freshwater staff capability, and has increased its biosecurity staff capability. In the coming year, the Department will seek to appoint a specialist modeller to develop and assess ecological scenarios.

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