09 April 2015

Reviewing stewardship land – ‘pick up the pace’ says Commissioner

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, has called for the Department of Conservation to pick up the pace in reviewing stewardship land. 

Today Dr Wright released an update to her 2013 report Investigating the future of conservation: The case of stewardship land. About one third of the conservation estate is categorised as ‘stewardship land’. 

The Commissioner said she was pleased that the Minister of Conservation has accepted her recommendations regarding stewardship land and has moved to implement them. 

“Compared with other categories of conservation land, the legal protection of stewardship land is weak. This quite naturally signals to the private sector that it is ‘open for business’”, said Dr Wright. 

“But much of it will have high conservation value and should be reclassified accordingly. Other areas will have little or no conservation value and should be considered for exchange or disposal.” 

Dr Wright has welcomed the initial steps being taken by the Department of Conservation in response to her report. A number of areas have already been identified for review including the Mokihinui area in the Buller District, the St James-Poplars area in North Canterbury, and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area. 

“However, the review strategy, including criteria and timelines, should be put on the Department’s website so it is clear and accessible to the public.” 

Areas of stewardship land can be swapped for areas of private land. In the update report, the Commissioner reiterated the need to ensure such land swaps benefit conservation.  She said that further work is required before the public can have confidence in land swap decisions. 

The update report can be found here. The 2013 report is available here.