Draft Biodiversity Strategy
Our Natural Place - Draft Biodiversity Strategy
The Ashburton District is bordered by the Pacific Ocean in the east, Southern Alps in the west, the Rakaia River in the north and the Rakitata (Rangitata) River in the south.
Our district identifies itself with these natural environments and relies on them as the backbone of our economy. Through this special environment, biodiversity is connected with our culture, our heritage and our economic resources.
While parts of the district are rich in biodiversity, our indigenous (or native) biodiversity remnants on the plains are acutely threatened. Managing these threats requires collective action from the community to ensure that we plan for their survival and that our district’s biodiversity thrives.
Ashburton District Council recognises the importance of this and so we’ve asked local environmental organisations, iwi, landowners, government agencies and other stakeholders to help us develop a new kaupapa (strategy).
We’ve developed a vision, goals and objectives that aim to support the protection, maintenance and restoration of biodiversity, to gather and share knowledge, and to encourage community collaboration and participation into the future.
We asked our community what they valued about our native environment, whether they supported the draft strategy and what they thought the Council should be doing to protect and enhance our indigenous biodiversity.
A district where biodiversity is protected and enhanced from the mountains to the sea (ki uta ki tai) by a community that values and cares for it.
Feedback closed Sunday 26 November, however you can still find out more about the strategy using the links below.
When we talk about biodiversity we talk about the variety of plants, animals and their environment; from microorganisms and fungi, trees, plants and animals - the genes they comprise, and the ecosystems they are a part of. In the strategy we refer to indigenous biodiversity, meaning all living organisms that occur naturally in New Zealand, and how they interact with their environment. Most of this indigenous biodiversity are endemic – meaning they are found nowhere else in the world.
The Ashburton District is rich in biodiversity and outstanding landscapes. We host three braided river systems and several lowland streams, Ō Tū Wharekai – Ashburton lakes and wetlands, coastal dongas, the marine environment of the Canterbury Bight and outstanding mountain ranges. The district is home to a variety of native fish, birds, lizards and vegetation, some of which are rare or threatened.
Today, the district is considered a highly modified environment with few native vegetation remnants left on the low plains and around 25% native vegetation in the high country. Unfortunately, there is an ongoing significant loss of habitat in our high countries, lowland streams, and our unique braided rivers with remaining native vegetation being threatened by weeds, pests, land use changes and human behaviour.
Another important driver of biodiversity loss is climate change. More frequent events like floods and droughts and sea level rise can result in changes to ecosystem services and species biology.
At the same time, our strongest natural defence against climate change lies in biodiversity. Biodiversity acts as a natural carbon sink, sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and acting as a nature-based solution to global warming. Biodiversity helps provide stability and resilience to our environment as we adapt to the fluctuations and disturbances brought about by extreme weather events.
The community plays an essential role in caring for our district and has already done amazing mahi in the area of biodiversity protection and restoration, like the 30-year plan for Lake Camp and Lake Clearwater, Wakanui Beach restoration projects, various native planting projects and pest control.
To get even more community members onboard, the strategy contains a focus on education and empowerment of the community, and on working together to achieve our goals.
We're keen to hear what you think about the proposed vision for Biodiversity in our district, the goals we aim to achieve and the actions on how we plan on getting there!
GOAL 1 - PROTECT AND MAINTAIN
The remaining indigenous biodiversity in the Ashburton District is protected and maintained.
This means (objectives):
- 1.1 Ecological values within the district are identified and protected.
- 1.2 Taoka species and sites with takata whenua cultural values are identified and protected.
- 1.3 Further loss of threatened and at-risk indigenous species is prevented by the control or eradication of pest species (fauna and flora)
- 1.4 Impacts of development and human activity on significant ecological values are properly managed.
GOAL 2 - RESTORE AND INTERCONNECT FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE COMMUNITY
The indigenous biodiversity in the Ashburton District is restored, enhanced and ecologically interconnected for the benefit of the community.
This means (objectives):
- 2.1 Indigenous vegetation cover within the district has increased over time.
- 2.2 Biodiversity sites and habitats of indigenous species and taoka are interconnected.
- 2.3 Community projects that aim to restore and ecologically link indigenous biodiversity sites and habitats in the district are identified and supported (support: time / expertise / biodiversity grant).
- 2.4 Eco-tourism through biodiversity is encouraged and promoted in Ashburton District.
GOAL 3 - EDUCATE AND ENHANCE AWARENESS
Knowledge on biodiversity is gathered and shared, informing and empowering the stakeholders and the community.
This means (objectives):
- 3.1 Research into and collection of data on the state of biodiversity in the district is improved.
- 3.2 Knowledge of Manawhenua world view / biodiversity within the district is documented and shared.
- 3.3 Knowledge of Ashburton indigenous biodiversity is shared with the community and stakeholders (landowners, industry groups, environmental protection groups, local and regional government agencies).
- 3.4 School environmental programmes are sustained and improved.
GOAL 4 - COOPERATE, ENCOURAGE AND CELEBRATE COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION
Collaboration and participation among Council, Rūnaka and Stakeholders in the wider community for conservation and enhancement of indigenous biodiversity is encouraged.
This means (objectives):
- 4.1 Cooperation and collaboration among stakeholders is encouraged.
- 4.2 Council takes a leadership role in working together and encouraging conservation and enhancement.
- 4.3 The general public is encouraged to participate in conservation and enhancement of indigenous biodiversity.
- 4.4 Community projects that aim to protect, maintain and enhance indigenous biodiversity are supported.
Apart from the actions that were identified with the stakeholders during the development of the strategy, there are also legal requirements for a Council to contribute to the management of Biodiversity in the district.
One notable example is the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPS-IB), which came into force in August 2023 and mandates Council to complete the assessment of Significant Natural Areas (SNAs), within the next five years.
The NPS-IB advocates for increasing vegetation cover, establishing ecological connectivity and providing awareness and education to landowners on restoration of indigenous biodiversity. It also highlights takata (tangata) whenua as partners in indigenous biodiversity management.
We'll seek feedback from the community.
Submission hearings and deliberations
Councillors will hear submissions and deliberate on the public's feedback.
15 December - Early 2024
Council will make any necessary changes to the draft strategy.
The final strategy is expected to be adopted by Council.