In the “Department of Conservation's Statutory Planning Processes”
It’s important for people to be able to have their say when decisions about the future management of an area or species are being made. The most important thing is knowing when you can contribute to conservation management decisions, and how to make your opinion heard.
Consultation is defined as “an invitation to give advice, and the consideration of that advice. To achieve consultation, sufficient information must be supplied and sufficient time allowed by the consulting party to those consulted to enable them to tender helpful advice. It involves ongoing dialogue. It does not necessarily mean acceptance of those views, but it enables informed decision-making by having regard to those views.”1
What gets consulted on?
- General policies
- Conservation management strategies
- Conservation management plans
- National park management plans
- Proposed actions (e.g. new national parks and marine reserves, commercial use of public conservation land which involves buildings and other structures or other kinds of exclusive use, and disposals of public conservation land).
How often do the plans and strategies come up for consultation? Conservation management strategies, conservation management plans and national park management plans have a ten year life. Occasionally there might be an amendment or review proposed outside of the ten year timeframe.
How does consultation work? First, a public notice is generally placed in the local paper advertising a review of the proposed policy, plan or strategy. There is an invitation for people to write in and state what they would like to see addressed.
Then, a draft plan is produced, and another public notice is placed in the paper, calling for submissions from the public within a stated timeframe.
Get hold of the draft plan. It’s important that when a draft plan or strategy is advertised, that you get hold of a copy as soon as you can. Contact your nearest DOC office and request a copy. Read the draft, and make notes of the bits that you are interested in. If you don’t understand something, contact someone at DOC and ask them to explain it to you.
Submissions are the best way for you to try and get your point across. A submission allows you to respond to aspects of the plan or policy that you are concerned about, or that you support, or otherwise have an interest in. After you’ve read the plan, and made your notes, you’ll be in a good position to write your submission. DOC has submission forms, which can help you say what you need to say in a way that makes it easy for DOC to understand what you mean. If you want to make sure you’re kept in the loop, then write a submission, as then your name goes onto the database for getting updates on the process. Views that are written down rather than spoken avoid the possibility that the listener might get it wrong, and also allows your views to be shared easily with others making decisions on submissions.