Natural Environment

This section will cover three subtopics: Indigenous Biodiversity and Riparian Areas, Outstanding Natural Landscapes and Features, and Coastal Environment

Indigenous Biodiversity and Riparian Areas

This topic looks at protecting and maintaining biodiversity to ensure continuity of important indigenous plants, animals and ecosystems. The Natural Environment provides us with a range of necessities including food, water, materials, and flood defences.

Extensive vegetation clearing and draining of wetlands has reduced the number of natural habitats, so biodiversity management is particularly relevant where proposed development can lead to habitat loss. Reducing on-farm environmental impacts is good for the environment and a priority, however, maintaining productivity and economic benefits within agriculture should also be recognised.

Key Issues:

  • The loss of ecological values through the destruction or modification of Significant Natural Areas (SNAs - identified sites of significant biodiversity) and other indigenous vegetation fauna habitats through inappropriate land use
  • Management of riparian areas, e.g., river fringes to better protect natural character and ecological/biodiversity values
  • Supporting Environment Canterbury (ECan) initiatives to improve water quality through the active management of riparian areas.

What We’re Thinking:

  • An updated list of Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) using the criteria specified in the Canterbury Regional Policy Statement (CRPS). Ecologists are also considering whether there are areas with the potential to be Ecological Corridor Priority Areas (areas that, if enhanced, could form ecological corridors to be identified in the District Plan)
  • Clearer rules to better protect SNAs and maintain other indigenous vegetation, e.g., erecting any structure with a foundation or footprint greater than 10m2 will be a noncomplying activity
  • Investigating the possibility of incentivising protection and/or enhancement of indigenous vegetation to help improve biodiversity values in the District. This could involve development bonuses, such as allowing rural subdivisions below the minimum lot size, if they protect a SNA or enhance/plant an Ecological Corridor Priority Area
  • Considering how to improve the overall biodiversity programme in terms of regulatory and non-regulatory tools
  • Clearer, integrated provisions and rules to maintain and enhance the values of riparian margins, e.g., all earthworks over a particular volume or area will require a resource consent if within  a defined distance of a river, lake or wetland.

Relevant Information:

Outstanding Natural Landscapes and Features

This topic looks at managing Outstanding Natural Landscapes and Features through their protection or maintenance. In turn, this contributes to social and cultural wellbeing by providing people with a unique sense of place and identity. Landscapes continue to evolve and reflect a synergy of different land types, vegetation cover, and land use.

Key Issues:

  • Review and identify the District’s Outstanding Natural Landscapes and Features
  • Determine the activities which can adversely impact on Outstanding Natural Landscapes and Features
  • Evaluate whether a second tier of natural landscapes and features considered to be ‘significant’ is appropriate.

What We’re Thinking:

The following areas are identified as outstanding by landscape experts:

Outstanding Natural Landscapes

Incorporates the Puketeraki Range and Oxford Foothills, but excludes the Lees Valley floor and some edges of the foothills when compared to the area mapped in the current District Plan.

Outstanding Natural Features (both not in the current Waimakariri District Plan)

  • Waimakariri River
  • Ashley - Rakahuri/Saltwater Creek Estuary.

It is intended that these areas are overlaid on District Plan maps with a range of rules to manage activities for each area, e.g., structures and earthworks.

Relevant Information:

Coastal Environment

This topic looks at the natural character of the Coastal Environment. Natural character has three main components: natural processes, natural elements, and natural patterns.

Natural processes include the action of waves, tides, wind, and rain, as well as the movement of animals and the natural succession of plant species.

Natural elements include water, landforms and vegetation cover.

The distribution of these natural elements over an area forms natural patterns. A fourth important component is the human experience of these natural processes, elements and patterns,
and values.

There is a need to manage activities in coastal areas to protect defining natural characteristics.

Key Issues:

  • In the current District Plan, the Coastal Environment is not well defined. This makes effective control of inappropriate activities problematic
  • Potential loss/degradation of natural character values caused by unsuitable land use and subdivision, including negative effects that build up over time
  • Effects of coastal processes including coastal erosion, more extreme storm events and seawater inundation of land
  • Providing appropriate public access to and along the coast.

What We’re Thinking:

  • The Coastal Environment is mapped and a series of rules introduced to best manage activities which could compromise the natural character such as structures.

Relevant Information: