Regional Land and Water Plan
The Regional Land and Water Plan promotes the sustainable management of the West Coast’s natural and physical resources as they apply in the context of land and water by applying rules and conditions to various activities. These resources include the Region’s lakes, rivers, groundwater, wetlands, geothermal water, and land including river and lake beds. This Plan became operative on 27 May 2014, replacing the Water Management, Land and Riverbed and Discharge to Land Plans.
Some changes have been made to the Land and Water Plan since October 2020, to add the Plan Change 1 amendments, and the fish passage, wetlands and rivers provisions. These are further explained below. Here is a link to the operative Land and Water Plan with the recent changes.
See here for the operative Land and Water Plan 2014 chapter by chapter, excluding Plan Change 1 and NPSFM S55 changes.
National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry
The National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry (NESPF) came into effect on 1 May 2018.
The purpose of the NESPF is to maintain or improve the environmental outcomes associated with plantation forestry activities while increasing efficiency and certainty associated with those activities nationally. See here for more information on the NESPF.
National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020
The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPSFM) requires regional councils to add one objective for fish passage and two policies about natural inland wetlands and rivers that are contained in the NPSFM to regional plans. The NPSFM further provides that these provisions can be added to regional plans without going through a public submission process under section 55 of the Resource Management Act (RMA).
The NPSFM objective and policies are added to the Regional Land and Water Plan in accordance with Section 55 of the First Schedule of the RMA, as of 8 June 2021.
Click here to see a copy of the NPSFM changes to the Land and Water Plan, and a copy of the public notice required under section 55 of the RMA.
Identifying the environmental effects of sphagnum moss harvesting on wetlands
West Coast Regional Council sought an updated review of the effects of moss harvesting following submissions received on a proposed plan change to remove sphagnum moss harvesting from the definition of vegetation disturbance in the Regional Land and Water Plan 2016.
Most submitters opposed to Plan Change 1 were concerned that there was no scientific evidence presented to show that sphagnum harvesting impacts were minor, or that such harvesting could be achieved sustainably. The international literature suggests that sphagnum harvesting can be sustainably managed.
Traditional management has resulted in increased woody vegetation and decreased sphagnum yields in previously harvested conservation areas, whereas current practices on private land have increased sphagnum yields, with temporary minor impacts on vegetation and wildlife.
The negative impacts of harvesting are generally short term and minor.