Residents and visitors in Otago and Southland have the chance over the next few weeks to have their say about how DOC manages conservation land in the area.
Screen shot of the online values survey
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The department is trialling a new way to engage public opinion using an online mapping tool to find out what people value in Southland and Otago. This interactive tool has previously been used in America and Australia; however, this is the first time it has been used in New Zealand.
DOC Otago Community Relations Manager Ken Stewart and DOC Southland Conservancy Community Relations Manager Martin Kessick said this trial is a new innovation for the department and provides an opportunity for people to have a say. “Using this method means people can tell us what they think in the comfort of their own homes,” Mr Kessick said. “The department particularly wants to encourage feedback from people who may not normally get involved as well as those who traditionally have done so in the past.”
The study is based on an easy to use interactive mapping system that allows participants to place a range of icons on a map to show what they value in different places around Otago and Southland. “We’re keen to hear what people have to say on a number of topics,” said Mr Stewart. “For example, you can indicate locations that are important to you for recreation or native wildlife, or you can tell us where you think there is overcrowding, poor information, or too much noise. You can even point out where you think development should or shouldn’t be encouraged."
Participants also have the opportunity to tell DOC what they think each region should be known for and what they think about the way DOC land is currently managed.
Understanding public values about conservation land is considered a key step in reviewing the department’s Conservation Management Strategies (CMSs). A CMS is a 10-year regional strategy that provides direction for the management of public conservation land, water and species for which the department has responsibility.
“The opportunity to help shape a CMS happens every 10 years, so it’s a significant opportunity for people to have their say,” said Mr Kessick. “It’s important to hear from as many people as possible during this process.”
“This is an early bird opportunity for the public to have their say. They will be consulted in a more formal way later in the year.”
The study is being run in partnership between the department, The University of Waikato and The University of Queensland (Australia).
Members of the public are encouraged to participate in the study. To comment on what you value about Otago visit www.landscapemap2.org/otago and to comment on Southland visit www.landscapemap2.org/nzdoc.
The study runs until 16 February.