So what’s the process?

We began by gathering information on the natural areas of the district that are potentially significant.  This involved looking at aerial photographs and the ecological information that has been collected in the past, to assess the values and significance of each site. Tonkin and Taylor completed this initial research phase of the project in July 2018. (Step 1). 

We then met with stakeholders including the Department of Conservation, Federated Farmers representatives, Regional Council representatives and staff from the Maniapoto Maori Trust Board to discuss the initial findings of the desktop study.

During 2019 we are planning on talking with landowners about the information that has been collected (Step 2).  Landowners with potentially Significant Natural Areas on their properties will be invited to attend meetings in local areas at pre-arranged times.  At these meetings the values of the potentially Significant Natural Area can be discussed and it may be possible to amend maps and data.  In some cases follow up site visits will be required (Step 3).  

Later on in the year we will be considering how this information will be included within the Proposed District Plan (Step 4). It is too early to say what will or won’t be included in the Proposed District Plan. The approaches adopted by other Councils include rules and/or incentives or a combination of both.  When the Proposed District Plan is notified there will be further opportunities to make submissions and talk to the Council (Step 5).  

What’s happening at the moment?

At the moment we are testing the data so it is ready for consultation with landowners (Step 2). Our initial data set comprised some 5000+ individual polygons scattered across the district. These polygons are often clustered together or adjacent to one another. WDC is working with Tonkin and Taylor to refine this data set by merging the polygons, where this is appropriate, into single SNA sites. The Waikato Regional Council has also helped us to amend the line work (which are the boundaries around each polygon) so that this is as accurate as possible. We are also checking through all of the descriptions to make sure that each site meets the criteria for significance.  

In early 2019 we will verify or ‘ground-truth’ a selection of sites to determine the level of accuracy of the desktop study. If an ecologist needs to visit a site on your property, we will ask for your permission. Remembering of course, that we are very early in this process and there will be further opportunities for discussion. 

Further information:

If you would like any further information, or would like to talk to somebody at the Council about this work, then please email Fiona Hill at Fiona.Hill@waitomo.govt.nz, or phone the Council’s Freephone number 0800 932 4357 and ask to speak to Fiona.