How were Significant Natural Areas identified?

Council staff reviewed existing SNAs through aerial imagery and other available information to determine whether the sites were still intact and should be relisted in the Proposed District Plan or needed further assessment.

We commissioned Wildland Consultants Ltd to review the sites that required further assessment and to identify new SNAs worthy of listing in the Proposed District Plan based on the significance criteria outlined in Environment Canterbury’s Regional Policy Statement.

Due to budget and time constraints, the ecologists prioritised certain sites for field visits (a small number of landowners declined the request for a field visit), with the rest assessed via desktop (using information such as reports, mapping systems and ecological databases).

New SNAs were also identified as part of Proposed Council Plan Change 25 in 2010-2012, however due to earthquake recovery projects taking priority, this plan change was not progressed at the time. We are proposing that these sites are now included in the Proposed District Plan.

Field Visits

Field surveys were undertaken where it was considered necessary, and where landowner permission was provided. These were undertaken by qualified ecologists and sought to identify rare or threatened flora and report any incidental findings of indigenous fauna that may have been present on site.

For smaller sites, the entire significant natural area was traversed on foot using existing tracks or off trail. For larger sites, or sites where access was difficult, the boundaries of the significant natural areas were followed and existing tracks or natural openings were used to survey the core of the area where this was possible.

Desktop Assessments

Not all sites had a field visit due to a range of reasons including budget constraints, access being declined by the landowner, or already having sufficient existing information. In these situations, desktop assessments were undertaken instead.

Desktop assessments were informed by relevant information from previous field visits and survey reports held by the Council, recent and historical aerial imagery, topographic maps, remote sensing datasets, ecological databases, professional ecological knowledge, and publicly available information held by other organisations such as Department of Conservation, Environment Canterbury and the Canterbury Botanical Society.