What is indigenous biodiversity?
Indigenous biodiversity refers to the native vegetation, habitats and wildlife that would naturally occur in an area.
What are Outstanding Natural Features (ONFs) and Outstanding Natural Landscape (ONLs)?
Outstanding Natural Features and Outstanding Natural Landscapes are landscapes or distinct landforms that have been identified as being exceptional or out of the ordinary.
The significance or value of a landscape is determined by natural elements, the scenic or sensory value and by cultural, spiritual, or social associations. Natural features are generally smaller parts of a larger landscape that have distinctive characteristics.
What is natural character?
The natural character of an area is determined by the effects of natural processes, naturally occurring elements, and natural patterns of land or vegetation. Places that are pristine and wild generally have high or outstanding natural character, while modified environments generally have lower natural character value.
How will the district plan identify and protect indigenous biodiversity, ONLs and ONFs?
The definitions of what constitutes indigenous biodiversity, ONLs or ONFs are set by the RMA, Regional Policy Statement and other government policies such as the draft National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity. Through the district plan review we will work with our communities and landowners to identify and agree on the most important and valuable areas to be protected.
How do other Councils protect biodiversity?
The approach of district plans for protecting areas of significant indigenous biodiversity varies from district to district. Our neighbouring councils are currently working with their communities to identify and protect areas of significant biodiversity value through their district plan reviews and plan changes.
Central government is also currently working on a new National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity that will give direction to councils on how to manage indigenous biodiversity in their district plans. This will result in a more consistent approach to protecting biodiversity across the country. This is expected to come into effect later this year.
Why isn’t public land being included for protection of biodiversity?
Through the district plan review council will be considering both private and public land, including land managed by Hutt City Council (such as council parks and reserves), Greater Wellington Regional Council (such as the Belmont and East Harbour Regional Parks) and the Department of Conservation (such as the Remutaka Forest Park).
What are Significant Natural Areas (SNAs)?
Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) are areas of significant indigenous (native) vegetation and significant habitats of indigenous fauna (native wildlife). These areas usually include either:
- rare or endangered native plants or animals,
- native ecosystems and habitats where there is little left,
- important wildlife corridors or habitat linkages, or
- are adjacent to highly significant natural areas.
Why do you need to protect sites on private land when there is lots of indigenous vegetation and natural landscapes on public land?
Under the RMA and the Regional Policy Statement for the Wellington Region, Hutt City Council is responsible for determining important terrestrial natural areas and ensuring they are protected. The RMA and Regional Policy Statement do not differentiate between private and public land. While there is a lot of indigenous vegetation and important landscape features on public land, some of the district’s most significant and rare indigenous vegetation, wildlife habitat and landscapes are in private ownership, in particular wetlands and lowland forest and part of the south coast.