Caring for the Landscapes of Aotearoa New Zealand (Synthesis Report)

Caring for the Landscapes of Aotearoa New Zealand (Synthesis Report)

By Raewyn Peart, Cordelia Woodhouse, Shay Schlaepfer, Deidre Koolen-Bourke and Lara Taylor

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Aotearoa New Zealand’s distinctive natural and cultural landscapes are an integral part of our individual and collective well-being. But despite the importance of these landscapes, and this being recognised in law for close to 30 years, we are still seeing poor outcomes. This prompted the Environmental Defence Society to initiate a project to investigate why the landscape management system is failing and how it might be strengthened.

This Synthesis Report brings together a large body of work we have undertaken on landscape management. It includes the findings of four case studies focusing on landscape management in Te Manahuna Mackenzie Basin, Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū Banks Peninsula, the Waitākere Ranges and the Hauraki Gulf Islands. A fifth case study investigated potential linkages between tourism and landscape protection. The Report also includes an in-depth review of the case law and landscape assessment practices in Aotearoa New Zealand. We have investigated the application of a te ao Māori approach to landscape. In addition, we have included the findings of an in-depth international review of innovative landscape protection models.

We found that the pressures on our landscapes have increased markedly over the past two decades and many landscapes are still in decline. The pressures are becoming stronger, more multifaceted, and they play out in different ways in different places. We found that in the face of intense development pressures, the current system is not performing well.

We conclude the report with identifying how the current proposed reforms to the resource management system could be better configured to provide more robust landscape protection. We also propose a more enduring landscape protection model to better protect Aotearoa New Zealand’s landscapes for our future generations.  

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