Tonkin + Taylor has provided services for several Regional and District Councils undertaking Significant Natural Area (SNA) assessments in accordance with ecological significance criteria of regional policy statements and the draft National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (2018).
An example project includes an assessment of karst ecosystems for Waikato Regional Council (WRC), where the ecological values and threat/vulnerability of known areas of karst ecosystems were assessed and ranked for priority management purposes. Our team developed a methodological approach and robust and transparent assessment framework for WRC to apply to karst SNAs.
This has allowed for increased knowledge of karst biodiversity values in the Waikato region, application for GIS mapping and prioritising SNA sites for biodiversity management. The SNA assessment framework has also contributed to decision making around strategic allocation of resources and biodiversity management actions from a regional perspective.
We also undertook a project for Waikato District Council (WDC) developing a district-wide SNA inventory for plan change purposes, in accordance with ecological significance criteria. This project involved assessing over 120 potential SNA sites using desktop and field assessment methods, as well as extensive landowner liaison on behalf of WDC.
Both projects were undertaken to help support Councils fulfil obligations in relation to Section 6(c) of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) to maintain and enhance biodiversity.
Our ecology team has the specialist knowledge, track record and experience to support other Regional and District Councils to meet obligations regarding Significant Natural Area assessment, mapping and management prioritisation under the now gazetted National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity (2023), which came into effect from August 1st 2023.