Information about the framework that guides Conservation Board planning and reporting. The three key components of the accountability framework are planning, monitoring and reporting.

On this page:

6.1 Overview of the accountability framework

The accountability framework guides a Conservation Board’s performance and increases the ability of Boards to meet their goals and expectations.

Operating within the accountability framework gives a Board confidence that:

  • Conservation outcomes will align to government and Ministerial expectations
  • Processes are in place to ensure risks are identified and communicated in a timely manner
  • Boards are competent in discharging their functions.

For DOC, the accountability framework:

  • Identifies any resourcing requirements DOC may need to consider, to meet conservation outcomes
  • Enables DOC to seek and consider Boards’ views when developing projects and policy.

For Conservation Boards, the accountability framework:

  • Recognises the Board’s role and statutory responsibilities and provides transparent processes to fulfilling these
  • Provides opportunities for Boards to embed continuous improvement in their practices
  • Develops Boards’ capability in setting its strategic direction and practices
  • Allows Boards to formally communicate their issues and concerns. 

6.2 Planning

The planning structures that apply to Conservation Boards embed accountability to build and maintain trust and confidence in their stakeholders, including the Minister, DOC, the NZCA and the communities whose interests a Board represents. Annual planning reflects the strategic direction and priorities indicated in the Minister’s LOE and sets achievable objectives/outcomes for a Board to pursue.

To achieve these planning objectives, DOC provides servicing, and works with Conservation Boards to help them develop their work plans and formulate appropriate responses to the Minister’s Letter of Expectation.

6.2.1 Annual planning cycle

The annual planning cycle consists of a number of key tasks.  The table below sets out relevant duties and timelines for both Conservation Boards and the Crown (ie the Minister or DOC).


Conservation Board


1 (Jul – Sep)

Reviews and finalises annual work plan for current year

Delivers Annual Report for previous year to the NZCA

Minister receives Annual Report from the NZCA and requests performance advice from DOC

2 (Oct – Dec)

Delivers interim performance report to the NZCA

DOC commences operational planning based on CMS


Budget planning commences following Treasury guidelines


Conservation Board appointment process commences

3 (Jan – Mar)

Responds to draft LOE consultation

Minister receives interim performance report from the NZCA and requests performance advice from DOC


Minister receives recommendations for Board appointments from the NZCA and DOC


DOC commences consultation for development of LOEs

4 (Apr – Jun)

Confirms LOE

Develops work plan for following year

Treasury announces budget


DOC’s Senior Leadership Team (SLT) approves DOC budget allocations


DOC Operations Director approves Conservation Board budgets


Minister confirms and Gazettes Conservation Board appointments


Minister issues LOE to Boards by 1 July

6.2.2 Letters of Expectation

The Minister provides each Conservation Board with an annual Letter of Expectation (LOE), which also confirms the timeline for the Board’s annual work plan.

The LOE contains specific expectations for work to be done and outcomes to be achieved within each rohe. The strategic direction and priorities indicated in the Minister’s LOE should be used to define a Board’s priorities, objectives and outcomes and assist Boards in setting their annual work plan.

The Board then responds to the Minister’s LOE, acknowledging the Minister’s expectations and outlining any major issues that they expect to encounter.

6.2.3 Annual work plan

The Minister’s LOE forms the basis of the Board’s annual work plan.  Boards are provided with a template divided into three parts:

1. Planned Board activities aimed at the Minister’s expectations contained in the LOE:

  • Working with DOC
  • Taking account of Ministerial priorities for DOC, contained in DOC’s Four-year Plan
  • Working with adjoining Conservation Boards and the NZCA
  • Understanding the Board’s contribution to giving effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi
  • General engagement with the community, including raising the profile of the Board.

2. Planned Board activities aimed at meeting the regional work plan contained in the LOE:

  • Review/development/monitoring of statutory management plans including Conservation Management Strategies (CMS)
  • Advice relating to stewardship land
  • Other statutory functions for the Board
  • Advocacy.

3. Risks and issues from the Board’s perspective, and opportunities for conservation growth, not covered in the first two parts above.

Appendix: Template for Conservation Board Annual Work Plan (DOC, 29K)

6.3 Monitoring

The accountability framework allows a Board to assess its performance against its annual work plan.

This can be achieved through the Board regularly monitoring and discussing progress at each meeting.  A Board’s regular monitoring activity only needs to be presented in a condensed summarised format but should be a standing agenda item at each meeting, under general headings such as:

  • Planned activities
  • Performance indicators
  • Progress towards delivery
  • Key milestones achieved

Regular monitoring will allow a Board to identify and act on any potential areas where issues have arisen or where there are barriers to expected performance.

6.4 Annual Report

Conservation Boards are required to submit a report of their operations for the previous 12 months, addressed to the NZCA, as soon as possible after 30 June each year (s6O).  From this, the NZCA compiles an overview of activity carried out by all Boards and supplies this to the Minister.

A Board’s Annual Report must contain sufficient information to enable an informed assessment to be made of the Board’s progress against its strategic intentions and the direction given to it by the Minister.

The Board Support Officer holds a template for the Annual Report, and can share this with members on request, to assist Boards with complying with this requirement under the Act.

6.5 Interim Report

In addition to the Annual Report, Boards are also encouraged to produce a summary interim report at the mid-point of their annual work cycle.

Interim reporting provides an opportunity for Boards to communicate frankly and freely with the Minister and, under the ‘no surprises’ policy, advise of sensitive issues.  The interim report will contain information such as:

  • The Board’s performance to date against the annual work plan
  • Highlighting major achievements for the period
  • Providing information on anticipated barriers to performance
  • Highlighting any emerging issues and risks
  • Notifying any new or emerging opportunities
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