To: Director-General of Conservation
Date: 11 March 2013
At the Authority’s February 2012 meeting you suggested the Authority provide you with advice on recreation and tourism and the Department’s role in their management.
We have discussed different aspects of this topic with your staff at three Authority meetings during 2012 and would now like to provide you with the following advice.
- The Department should focus its attention on areas where recreation and tourism values are synergistic with nature and historic conservation values. This is not only consistent with the Department’s statutory functions, but makes good business sense.
- The Department’s desire to achieve ‘more conservation’ as a consequence of recreation and tourism needs to be underpinned by a strategy and goals that achieve this outcome. Outcome achievement should be monitored.
- With the change in Departmental direction from supply-driven to demand-driven recreation provision, the Department needs to ensure its investment is undertaken where demand and resourcing is likely to be sustained into the long-term.
- Recreation and tourism should only be promoted in areas where they are compatible with the protection of other conservation values. Protection of high indigenous biodiversity, historical or cultural values should take precedence.
- A set of underlying principles, including such things as safeguards for the environment, benefits to conservation and consideration of who bears the benefits and costs, should be developed for recreation and businesses based on it.
- Managing for recreation demand is not just about existing use; it is also about providing a range of recreation opportunities and protecting the full extent of that opportunity spectrum.
- A key motivation for the Department must be ensuring that New Zealanders have equitable opportunities to recreate on public conservation land.
- The Department’s assumption that recreation gives rise to conservation gain through enhanced conservation appreciation and understanding needs to be examined. It would be powerful to prove this connection and enlightening to disprove it.
- The Department should not be doing the work of other agencies, especially those funded to encourage recreation and tourism participation, e.g. Sport New Zealand. Rather, it should collaborate on mutual goals.
- There is opportunity for the Department to partner with local and regional councils/agencies/organisations to provide facilities and services ‘on the ground’; it need not do everything itself.
- A charge on international visitors to New Zealand using public conservation land and differential pricing for the use of facilities such as huts should be considered.
Dr Kay Booth