Introduction

Get more information about reclassification of the St James Conservation Area.

What does reclassification mean?

Reclassification is a process that allows an area of public conservation land (or part of it) to be given a different status, and/or a class, type, or overlay than its present one(s). The 'Land status and classification options' page provides an explanation of these terms.

The objective of reclassification is to assess the values, characteristics and intended uses of existing public conservation land and decide whether the current classification is appropriate. If the current classification is no longer suitable, the land can be reclassified. The procedures and options for reclassification are set out in the National Parks Act 1980, Conservation Act 1987 and Reserves Act 1977, and the Wildlife Act 1953 in certain circumstances.

A change in the status and any sub-classifications will affect how the land is administered and what activities can occur on the land.

What is the current status and sub-classification?

The following areas of public conservation land are being investigated:

  • St James Conservation Area (79,300 ha): Stewardship land
  • Hanmer Forest Park (11,800 ha): Conservation Park
  • Woodbank Conservation Area (2,200 ha): Stewardship land
  • Lake Sumner Forest Park on the northern side of SH7 (15,300 ha): Conservation Park
  • The Poplars Conservation Area on the north side of SH7 (2,100 ha): Stewardship land

Total proposed area being investigated: 110,700 ha

Why is a review of the classification being undertaken?

The government purchased the St James Station as public conservation land in 2008, funded by the Nature Heritage Fund. It was purchased to protect its natural, physical and cultural values and to open it up to outdoor recreation and tourism.

The land being investigated is currently held under the Conservation Act either as Stewardship land or as Conservation Park.

Stewardship land is a default classification, areas are managed for the nonspecific purpose of “protecting natural and historic resources”. See stewardship land – includes links to reports by the Parliamentary Commission for the Environment.

Conservation Park land is also similarly managed to protect its natural and historic resources and, where appropriate, to facilitate public recreation and enjoyment.

The land status and sub-classifications for public conservation land in and around the St James Conservation Area are historic and complex. The classifications do not necessarily reflect the conservation values of the lands and waters.

DOC has committed in the Canterbury Conservation Management Strategy 2016 to a review of the current land status and sub-classifications by the end of 2019.

What is the process to reclassify public conservation land?

Preliminary consultation with partners and key parties including with Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board, the New Zealand Conservation Authority, local communities and key stakeholders and other organisations with an interest in the lands is being undertaken at present.

There are different procedural pathways to follow, after the preliminary feedback is received and a draft proposal is prepared. This will include public notice of a draft proposal and an invitation to submit written submission on it. Following the receipt of submissions, a hearing will be held (if any submitter has requested to be heard), after which a report will be provided to the Minister for a decision on the proposal. 

What guides the review and decision-making?

Any reclassification will depend on the conservation values present and a decision about the best status and sub-classifications to provide for the protection of these values. Consideration will also be given to other matters such as other public uses, opportunities and future aspirations.

Policy 6(b) of the Conservation National Policy provides guidance about the outcomes sought from a classification review. See Land status and classification options for more information about the Conservation National Policy.

“Subject to statutory requirements, the classification of any public conservation lands may be reviewed from time to time to ensure that the classification of such lands continues to either: 

i. give appropriate protection and preservation for their natural resources, and/or historical and cultural heritage; or
ii. give appropriate protection and preservation for their educational, scientific, community, or other special features, for the benefit of the public; or
iii. enable integrated conservation management identified in conservation management strategies or plans; or
iv. provide for access and enjoyment by the public where that is in accordance with the purposes for which the land is held; or
v. reflect the values of public conservation lands that are present; or
vi. enable specified places to achieve conservation outcomes in the future.”

Does it all need to be reclassified as one status and sub-classification?

No, different parts of the public conservation land being investigated could become a different status and/or sub-classification. The existing boundaries between the five areas being reviewed are not fixed. The reclassification decision could be to reconfigure the boundaries to define new areas of a different status and/or sub-classification.

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