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Part 6: Detailed case study assessments

Department of Conservation: Prioritising and partnering to manage biodiversity.

6.1
In this Part, we summarise our assessment of the four different types of partnerships and collaborations that we looked at. Each summary section is followed by a discussion about the specific partnerships and collaborations that formed our case studies.

6.2
Figure 4 provides an overview of our findings against the criteria we used to assess each partnership or collaboration.

Figure 4
Criteria used to assess case studies of how effectively the Department of Conservation works with others to manage biodiversity

Ecosystem
based
Commercial
partnerships
Wetlands at risk Regional
biodiversity
groups
Criteria Puketi Forest Trust Kia Wharite Tiwai peninsula pest control West Coast Wildlife Centre Wairarapa Moana Wetland Group Waituna restoration programme Waituna regional response Northland Biodiversity Forum Southland Biodiversity Forum
Common understanding of biodiversity risks Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
Clarity of shared purpose Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. P x Tick. P
Implemented working agreement or memorandum of understanding Tick. Tick. P Tick. Tick. x x x x
Clearly defined roles and responsibilities Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. P x P P
Implemented plan of action Tick. Tick. P Tick. P P x Tick. x
Performance framework Tick. Tick. P Tick. x x x x x
Results reported Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. P x x P P
Adaptive management Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. P x x Tick. x
Effective working relationships P Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. P x Tick. Tick.
Biodiversity improvements Tick. Tick. P Tick. P x x x P

Key:
Tick. = The criterion was met.
x = The criterion was not met.
P = The criterion was partly met.

Summary of ecosystem-based collaboration with community groups and local authorities

6.3
We looked at case studies where DOC works with other agencies and organisations to manage specific local ecosystems that have clear threats to their biodiversity.

6.4
Puketi Forest Trust and Kia Wharite stand out as examples of good practice, showing the results that can be achieved through ecosystem-based collaborative projects.

6.5
The Puketi Forest Trust (the Trust) raises funds and organises community volunteers to resource pest management work. The work is carried out in 5500 hectares of kauri forest that is protected as part of the Northland Forest Park, which is administered by DOC.

6.6
The Trust works with DOC through a formal agreement and is supported by DOC staff's specialist advice and the use of DOC's specialised equipment.

6.7
The additional resources provided by the Trust are used to improve the health of the forest and the species that reside there. The Trust's efforts have been successful enough for the forest to be considered for the translocation of the k kako and the reintroduction of the North Island robins, which are both threatened species.

6.8
Kia Wharite is a restoration project and a collaborative partnership between DOC and Horizons Regional Council staff. Kia Wharite also benefits from funding contributed by other organisations. This partnership aims to integrate biodiversity management activities across the boundaries of public conservation and private land to greatest effect. Kia Wharite aims to share the skills of both organisations, using resources efficiently and maximising the opportunities to align operations. Kia Wharite addresses biodiversity management on a scale not previously attempted in New Zealand.

6.9
Kia Wharite has been running for more than three years. Progress from 2008 to 2011 included improvements in forest health and condition, improvements in species conservation, and improvements in the way the participating organisations work together.

Case study 1: Puketi Forest Trust

6.10
The Puketi Forest Trust was set up in 2003. It is a charitable trust and registered charity administered by up to nine Trustees. The Trust operates in Northland and works in 5500 hectares of Puketi Forest, which is a 15,000 hectare kauri forest protected as part of the Northland Forest Park administered by DOC. The Trust works to remove introduced pests from the area.

6.11
Populations of remaining native birds, such as North Island brown kiwi, kūkupa (New Zealand pigeon, kererū, or kūku), and pied tit, as well as two species of bats, are located in the forest. Their populations have declined and are likely to disappear from the area without intervention.

6.12
The Trust has a formal management agreement with DOC, recently extended to October 2015, which sets out the roles and responsibilities of the Trust and DOC. It also sets out details of how work on the land will be managed to align with DOC's standard operating procedures and other expectations.

6.13
DOC staff provide support and technical advice, lend equipment, and share resources to support the Trust's pest control and monitoring activities. The Trust and DOC meet every two months.

6.14
The working relationship with DOC is described as cordial and constructive. Feedback from representatives of the Trust indicated that there have been some issues in the past with how DOC worked with the Trust, but that there have been notable improvements in the past few years.

Effectiveness of the working relationships

6.15
There are signs that bird populations, including kiwi, are increasing. Pest control has been effective enough that the Trust is now working on reintroducing native birds and other wildlife that had been lost from the forest previously.

6.16
In June 2009, 30 toutouwai (North Island robins) were transferred to the Puketi Forest and a further 30 were transferred in April 2010. Monitoring has confirmed that the toutouwai have bred successfully in the core area each season since their release.

6.17
In February 2012, the Trust announced that the Northland Conservator had approved the proposal the Trust had submitted to DOC to transfer kōkako to the Puketi Forest. Plans are under way to transfer kōkako from Mataraua to Puketi in the spring of 2012. The transfer will be led by the Trust, with technical assistance from DOC staff and support from Piki Te Aroha Marae and the iwi Te Roroa.

Planning for longer-term financial security

6.18
Understanding that work must be continued indefinitely to sustain the restoration achieved, the Trust has started a capital fund to provide annual investment income that will help to secure the project's future. A target of $1 million has been set, which should provide enough income to sustain the project. This fund will be built from donations made expressly for this purpose. Donations will qualify for tax rebates.

6.19
Figure 5 sets out our assessment of DOC's work with the Trust.

Figure 5
Our assessment – working with the Puketi Forest Trust

Criteria Our assessment
Common understanding of biodiversity risks Tick.
Clarity of shared purpose Tick.
Implemented working agreement or memorandum of understanding Tick.
Clearly defined roles and responsibilities Tick.
Implemented plan of action Tick.
Performance framework Tick.
Results reported Tick.
Adaptive management Tick.
Effective working relationships P
Biodiversity improvements Tick.

Key:
Tick. = The criterion was met.
x = The criterion was not met.
P = The criterion was partly met.

Case study 2: Kia Wharite

6.20
Kia Wharite was set up in 2008 to:

... protect some of our most precious taonga in one of the most stunning and least-visited areas of the North Island. Blue Duck (Whio), North Island Brown Kiwi, and old growth forest will be protected by the combined pest control efforts of DOC, Horizons, landowners and iwi.40

6.21
DOC and Horizons Regional Council (the Council) work together on species and habitat conservation, catchment protection, and economic development. They try to use innovative approaches and share services to protect and conserve biodiversity throughout 180,000 hectares of public and private land in the Whanganui River catchment area.

6.22
Kia Wharite aims to provide effective services to the public by sharing the skills of DOC and Council staff, using resources efficiently, and maximising the opportunities to align DOC and Council operations. Other organisations have contributed funds to Kia Wharite, including BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust, the Central North Island Blue Duck Charitable Trust, and Forest & Bird.

6.23
The area covered by Kia Wharite integrates biodiversity management on a geographical scale larger than anywhere else in New Zealand. Much of the DOC land is located within the Whanganui National Park, which contains the second-largest remaining stand of lowland native forest in the North Island. It is also the largest stronghold of the North Island brown kiwi and hosts many other bird, animal, and plant species. Rivers flowing through the area are a stronghold of the native blue duck or whio, whose survival is threatened by stoats and feral cats. Forest health is degraded and the survival of occupying indigenous species is at risk from possums, goats, introduced predators, and weeds.

6.24
The collaboration between DOC and the Council is managed by two teams within DOC and the Council – a higher-level governance team and an operational team that meets monthly to co-ordinate and jointly manage Kia Wharite's implementation. All actions are discussed and agreed to by the operational team before implementation, and the operational team is the main contact point with landowners and the community.

Effectiveness of the working relationship

6.25
Kia Wharite is a good example of the type of integration needed between DOC and local authorities to improve the effectiveness of efforts to manage biodiversity. Participants have a common purpose, clear roles and responsibilities, an action plan, a reporting regime, and adaptive management. The success of Kia Wharite appears to be driven by the willingness of DOC and the Council to work together and, crucially, the support of landowners and tāngata whenua.

6.26
Animal pest and weed control operations are improving large areas of the forest, and the number of stoats has reduced significantly. Baseline monitoring of the kiwi population has been completed, which will let the project team see whether the kiwi population changes in response to stoat control measures during the next three years. Reports of the number of calling kiwi are encouraging. More than 400 dogs have been trained to avoid kiwi, and kiwi aversion training for dogs will soon be a requirement of a hunting permit on conservation land in the Whanganui area.

6.27
Figure 6 sets out our assessment of DOC's work with Kia Wharite.

Figure 6
Our assessment – working with Kia Wharite

Criteria Our assessment
Common understanding of biodiversity risks Tick.
Clarity of shared purpose Tick.
Implemented working agreement or memorandum of understanding Tick.
Clearly defined roles and responsibilities Tick.
Implemented plan of action Tick.
Performance framework Tick.
Results reported Tick.
Adaptive management Tick.
Effective working relationships Tick.
Biodiversity improvements Tick.

Key:
Tick. = The criterion was met.
x = The criterion was not met.
P = The criterion was partly met.

Summary of commercial partnerships

6.28
DOC has established many partnerships with commercial organisations (commercial partnerships) that have contributed additional resources to managing biodiversity in various types of environments in New Zealand.

6.29
Discussions with DOC staff and document reviews indicate that, although commercial partnerships are an opportunity to increase the available resources to managing biodiversity, DOC needs to balance the potential benefits with a number of factors, including potential risks. Commercial partnerships can be vulnerable because they depend on the financial viability of the sponsoring businesses over time.

6.30
In an environment of scarce resources, seeking commercial partnerships to contribute to biodiversity management in New Zealand is logical. Such partnerships can help to address the current shortfall of resources available for managing biodiversity in New Zealand – assuming specialist conservation requirements are prioritised and other risks are appropriately managed.

6.31
The commercial partnerships we reviewed were supported by formal working agreements, with clearly defined common goals, roles and responsibilities, and funding arrangements. For the most part, these agreements were also supported by well-developed strategies with action plans, risk and operational plans, monitoring and reporting responsibilities, and time lines for assessing progress and reviewing the partnerships.

6.32
Some findings suggest a need to be diligent in ensuring that specialist technical considerations associated with species work and/or pest control activities and risk management plans are prioritised when partnerships are set up and when operational plans are prepared.

6.33
The partnership agreements we reviewed and the stakeholders we spoke to suggest that the commercial partnerships are working well and achieving their goals. There were a few aspects that could be improved, mostly to do with DOC understanding how to be more flexible in working with the businesses and the timeliness of DOC's processes.

6.34
DOC is aware of, and responding to, the need to set in place risk management practices associated with commercial partnerships.

Case study 3: Pest control on Tiwai peninsula

6.35
New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Limited (NZAS) operates an aluminium smelter on the Tiwai peninsula, next to Waituna Lagoon. As a condition of it operating on land leased from the Crown, NZAS must carry out a plant and animal pest control programme to standards required by the Regional Pest Management Strategy for Southland. NZAS reports results of its work to DOC each year.

6.36
In 2009, a fire started while a contractor was spraying weeds in the area. The fire destroyed about 930 hectares of conservation land on the peninsula. No one was injured but the local environment was damaged.

6.37
Discussions between DOC and NZAS after the fire identified the need for improved risk management and a more formal strategy for land management on the peninsula. This led to DOC and NZAS agreeing a land management strategy for 2011 to 2015. NZAS provides detailed reports on its pest control work in the area, which enables results to be monitored over time.

6.38
NZAS has also prepared a biodiversity action plan for 2012 to 2016. The action plan is intended to direct, monitor, and review the effective management of "priority biodiversity features" at its aluminium smelting operations. The plan has the following goals and objectives:

  • eliminating (where possible) and mitigating high and critical operational threats to priority biodiversity features;
  • demonstrating a commitment to the conservation of priority biodiversity features and supporting local, national, and global conservation initiatives (where appropriate);
  • applying appropriate expertise and resources to biodiversity issues, building internal and external capacity where necessary; and
  • helping to promote the collection, analysis, and dissemination of biodiversity information and knowledge at the smelter and the greater Tiwai peninsula.

6.39
The plan has only recently been prepared. Because it is a private strategy, we cannot comment on its effectiveness – but we can observe that it appears well-developed and proactive.

6.40
We also note that our audit was carried out in 2011. Because of increasingly difficult business conditions in 2012, NZAS will not be able to continue funding for stoat trapping in the area. This contribution was not a requirement of the lease but additional pest control work that NZAS provided. The smelter will continue to work on pest and weed control work as required by its operating lease with DOC, and its employees will continue to provide voluntary services.

Effectiveness of the working relationship

6.41
DOC and NZAS have a clear framework to work within because DOC has agreed with NZAS on a formal strategy for managing the peninsula.

6.42
The fire on the peninsula made it clear that better risk management was needed for the lease arrangement between NZAS and DOC. Monitoring and reporting on the pest control work enables NZAS to show the results of its work over time.

6.43
The land management strategy includes a review process at the end of its term in 2015, which should enable DOC and NZAS to assess whether any changes are needed to improve the strategy's effectiveness.

6.44
NZAS's biodiversity action plan is a good example of how commercial partners can seek to incorporate biodiversity risk assessment and actions into their operational plans and how DOC might facilitate more of these when negotiating future commercial partnerships.

6.45
Figure 7 sets out our assessment of DOC's work with NZAS.

Figure 7
Our assessment – working on pest control with New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Limited

Criteria Our assessment
Common understanding of biodiversity risks Tick.
Clarity of shared purpose Tick.
Implemented working agreement or memorandum of understanding P
Clearly defined roles and responsibilities Tick.
Implemented plan of action P
Performance framework P
Results reported Tick.
Adaptive management Tick.
Effective working relationships Tick.
Biodiversity improvements P

Key:
Tick. = The criterion was met.
x = The criterion was not met.
P = The criterion was partly met.

Case study 4: West Coast Wildlife Centre

6.46
The West Coast Wildlife Centre (the Centre) opened in Franz Josef in November 2010. It is a commercial partnership between a private business and DOC. The Centre incubates and rears the most endangered kiwi – the rowi and Haast tokoeka.

6.47
The facility is a tourist attraction that provides information to raise awareness of the threatened species and the risks to them. Visitors can observe the kiwis in a specialised nocturnal viewing area as well as visiting the operating facilities with a premium "backstage pass".

6.48
DOC and the Centre signed a memorandum of understanding in 2010. It set out how the partnership would work, including funding conditions, DOC's staff contributions, operational and risk management plans that are based on DOC operating manuals and procedures, as well as an advocacy plan. The memorandum also includes terms for reviewing the agreement after three years.

Effectiveness of the working relationship

6.49
The Centre has met and exceeded its targets and has a kiwi survival rate of 90%. In the first year, 15 rowi chicks were hatched when the target was 12. In the second year, operations were expanded to include work with the Haast tokoeka. In 2012, the Centre is expanding and upgrading to accommodate hatching up to 50 rowi eggs and 25 Haast tokoeka eggs, as well as introducing a kiwi hospital for sick or injured kiwi brought in from the wild.

6.50
The partnership appears to be running effectively and achieving tangible biodiversity outcomes. The memorandum of understanding includes a review period after three years, which enables an adaptive management approach.

6.51
One lesson that could be learnt from this case study would be to ensure that technical specialist considerations are prioritised when developing facilities to ensure that all technical requirements and risks are considered from the onset.

6.52
Figure 8 sets out our assessment of DOC's work with the Centre.

Figure 8
Our assessment – working with the West Coast Wildlife Centre

Criteria Our assessment
Common understanding of biodiversity risks Tick.
Clarity of shared purpose Tick.
Implemented working agreement or memorandum of understanding Tick.
Clearly defined roles and responsibilities Tick.
Implemented plan of action Tick.
Performance framework Tick.
Results reported Tick.
Adaptive management Tick.
Effective working relationships Tick.
Biodiversity improvements Tick.

Key:
Tick. = The criterion was met.
x = The criterion was not met.
P = The criterion was partly met.

Summary of two regional responses to wetlands at risk

6.53
Wetlands are important habitats for a number of indigenous species, many of which are threatened. We decided to include two case studies where scientific monitoring has shown that wetlands have been deteriorating in health for several years, with potential detrimental effects on the indigenous species that live in them. These case studies look at how DOC worked with other stakeholders to respond to the known risks to the biodiversity values within the wetlands.

6.54
The Wairarapa Moana Wetland Project (the Wetland Project) is a good example of a collaborative initiative led and co-ordinated by DOC to address major risks to biodiversity, in part because it has formal management structures (governance, defined roles, and working plans – though these have not been updated since 2010).

6.55
People we interviewed felt that DOC had worked well with others in co-ordinating the groups involved in the Wetland Project and providing technical specialist support. Although references to achievements can be found in various documents, a lack of formal reporting against the project plan made it difficult to identify what outcomes have been achieved in addressing the known risks to the wetland.

6.56
As well as a general statutory obligation to protect freshwater fisheries, DOC has two specific roles in relation to Waituna Lagoon – there is a scientific reserve in the area, and the wetland is designated as an internationally significant wetland under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (the Ramsar Convention, which New Zealand is a signatory to and DOC is the administrating authority).

6.57
We looked at how DOC has worked with others on Waituna Lagoon, in general through its advisory and support work and specifically through implementing the Arawai Kākāriki wetland restoration programme. Although some parts of the restoration programme are reporting positive outputs achieved in collaboration, other activities are not reporting results.

6.58
Our research showed that, as a general practice in the region, DOC needs to improve how it works with other stakeholders in addressing known risks to biodiversity in Waituna Lagoon.

6.59
Considering the responsibilities that DOC has in relation to the wetland and its critical threatened state, we expected a more proactive and effective collaborative response on DOC's part.

Case study 5: Wairarapa Moana Wetland Project

6.60
A protective water conservation order was placed on Lake Wairarapa under the Resource Management Act in 1989, recognising the high ecological values of the area and particularly the wetlands around the Lake. DOC administers most of the Lake Wairarapa wetlands under the Conservation Act and the Reserves Act.

6.61
DOC has worked with its partners in the Wairarapa Moana Wetland Group (the Wetland Group) – local iwi and hap , Greater Wellington (the regional council), South Wairarapa District Council, Wellington Fish and Game Council,41 and other stakeholders to produce the Lake Wairarapa Wetland Action Plan. The goal of the Action Plan is to "protect and restore" indigenous plant and animal species and the ecological processes that ensure their survival.

6.62
Based on data gathered between 2006 and 2010, the Lake has been classified as supertrophic, meaning it has "very high" nutrient levels. The degraded condition of the wetland has been attributed to increases in nutrients, organic matter, and sediment resulting from development and agricultural intensification in the surrounding area.

6.63
The wetland is an important habitat for many bird, fish, and plant species, including some that are classified as threatened (such as the eel (tuna), which is considered to have reduced significantly in number during the last two decades).

6.64
DOC leads the co-ordinating committee that works toward integrated management by all the agencies involved with the Lake.42 There is also a governance group that is led by Greater Wellington and serviced by regional council staff. Terms of reference set out the roles and responsibilities and mandate of the agencies involved in the Wetland Group.

6.65
While we were carrying out our audit, Greater Wellington (in consultation with the Wetland Group members) prepared and submitted a proposal to the Fresh Start for Freshwater Clean-up Fund administered by the Ministry for the Environment. The Wetland Group was granted $1.01 million for restoring the Lake.

6.66
A Waitangi Tribunal report has recommended returning the lake beds of Wairarapa Moana and any government land surrounding the Wairarapa Moana to Wairarapa Māori. The Wetland Group is mindful that a Treaty settlement with local iwi is likely to be completed in the next two to three years and has reflected the expected change in its strategy.

Effectiveness of the working relationships

6.67
A review of the governance group's meeting agendas, minutes, and reports indicated that the Wetland Group works in a collaborative and engaged way. During our interviews, representatives told us that DOC has worked well with others in co-ordinating the Wetland Group and in providing technical specialist support. DOC has fostered and maintained positive working relationships with the stakeholders on this project and in the region.

6.68
However, monitoring and reporting of progress towards the Action Plan was not set up and implemented in a consistent or structured manner. Reports to committee meetings tended to be irregular and generally did not link back to show progress against the Action Plan goals. This has made it difficult to highlight tangible results achieved. Annual reports on the Action Plan would have more clearly demonstrated the progress the group was making towards its goals. People we interviewed were not clear what biodiversity gains the Wetland Group had made.

6.69
Figure 9 sets out our assessment of DOC's work with the Wairarapa Moana Wetland Group.

Figure 9
Our assessment – working with the Wairarapa Moana Wetland Group

Criteria Our assessment
Common understanding of biodiversity risks Tick.
Clarity of shared purpose Tick.
Implemented working agreement or memorandum of understanding Tick.
Clearly defined roles and responsibilities Tick.
Implemented plan of action P
Performance framework x
Results reported P
Adaptive management P
Effective working relationships Tick.
Biodiversity improvements P

Key:
Tick. = The criterion was met.
x = The criterion was not met.
P = The criterion was partly met.

Case study 6: Waituna restoration programme and regional response

6.70
Waituna Lagoon was recognised as a wetland of international significance under the Ramsar Convention in 1976. Although Environment Southland has the main statutory responsibility for managing the quality of freshwater in the region, DOC manages a scientific reserve located in the Lagoon and is the administrating authority in New Zealand for the Ramsar Convention. Also, the Conservation Act requires DOC to "preserve so far as is practicable all indigenous freshwater fisheries, and protect recreational freshwater fisheries and freshwater fish habitats".

6.71
Waituna Lagoon sits at the bottom of a catchment surrounded by farms and affected by intensive farming practices. This is thought to be the main cause of the deterioration in the condition of the Lagoon, which has accelerated noticeably since 2009. The Lagoon is considered at imminent risk of "flipping", which means it would become irreversibly murky water dominated by algal slime. This would be devastating for the Lagoon and the endemic plants and animals that live in it.

6.72
As a result of the threatened state of the Lagoon and a number of regulatory and non-regulatory responses in the region, an intense level of local conflict has been a challenge for both DOC and Environment Southland to manage. However, a fragmented response by these agencies has impeded effectiveness in addressing the risks to the Lagoon.

6.73
DOC works with others in the wetland by providing support and specialist technical advice on biodiversity, and through processes associated with the Resource Management Act. DOC also works in Waituna Lagoon through its Arawai Kākāriki Wetland Restoration Programme (the Restoration Programme). As part of the Restoration Programme, DOC and Environment Southland jointly fund a position known as the Land Sustainability Officer. DOC also set in place and leads the Awarua-Waituna Advisory Group (the Group).

6.74
We reviewed the implementation of the Restoration Programme in the wetland as well as how DOC has worked with others as part of its operations in response to the threatened state of the Lagoon.

Effectiveness of the working relationships – Restoration Programme and Advisory Group

6.75
The Restoration Programme began in 2007 and aims to enhance the ecological restoration of three of New Zealand's foremost wetland/freshwater sites, one of which is the Awarua wetland. Although the Restoration Programme is not a formal collaborative initiative, it includes various collaborative activities.

6.76
The Restoration Programme's 2007-10 Implementation Plan provides a well-structured performance framework with integrated objectives, implementation actions, outputs, outcomes, and ecological indicators linked to DOC's national objectives.

6.77
A lack of reporting about the Lagoon makes it difficult to identify the outcomes achieved. However, since 2007/08, the Restoration Programme has:

  • supported scientific research in the wetland and about the condition of species;
  • supported control of invasive weeds and monitoring of mammalian pests;
  • jointly funded with Environment Southland a Land Sustainability Officer dedicated to working with the farmers in the Waituna catchment;
  • funded projects to promote awareness and encourage recreational access (an information centre and walkway); and
  • set up a community advisory group (see paragraph 6.73) to promote sustainable land use and riparian fencing and planting.

6.78
The Restoration Programme has been considered a success by a number of people we interviewed (DOC staff and others). The scientific research and monitoring as well as partnering to work with the local community through the jointly funded Environment Southland Land Sustainability Officer are considered especially successful.

6.79
The Group was meant to be a local collaborative initiative, but its members were not clear about their roles. Some stakeholders were unsure what the Group had achieved in restoring the Lagoon. The last annual report was provided in 2008/09, which has added to difficulty in identifying the Group's achievements and its effectiveness. Preparing a performance reporting framework and reporting annually on achievements might have helped to clarify the results achieved.

6.80
People we interviewed told us that, since the condition of Waituna Lagoon became critical in 2010, numerous working groups or initiatives have evolved, with similar and potentially overlapping mandates or purposes to that of the Group. People suggested that, for efficiency purposes, DOC should assess how its programmes fit into the current context and consider how DOC can add the most value.

6.81
The lack of reporting means it is difficult to identify the results achieved for the resources invested through the Restoration Programme in the Waituna Lagoon.

6.82
Figure 10 sets out our assessment of DOC's work with the Restoration Programme and the Group.

Figure 10
Our assessment – working with the Arawai Kākāriki Wetland Restoration Programme and the Awarua-Waituna Advisory Group

Criteria Our assessment
Common understanding of biodiversity risks Tick.
Clarity of shared purpose P
Implemented working agreement or memorandum of understanding x
Clearly defined roles and responsibilities P
Implemented plan of action P
Performance framework x
Results reported x
Adaptive management x
Effective working relationships P
Biodiversity improvements x

Key:
Tick. = The criterion was met.
x = The criterion was not met.
P = The criterion was partly met.

Effectiveness of the working relationships – DOC working with others on Waituna Lagoon as part of its operations in the region

6.83
We interviewed DOC staff and external stakeholders and reviewed documents and files to assess how well DOC has worked with others in response to the threatened state of Waituna Lagoon. This section discusses DOC's work in the Waituna Lagoon area as part of its general operations.

6.84
Almost all the people interviewed about this case study, including DOC staff, said that some form of working agreement or memorandum of understanding was needed between DOC and Environment Southland. The agreement or memorandum would clarify roles and responsibilities and working arrangements on various activities or issues, and improve the effectiveness of the combined efforts in the region.

6.85
Some stakeholders and some DOC staff felt that DOC had not been proactive enough in how it responded to the critical condition of the Lagoon, considering the role DOC has as the manager of the scientific reserve in the Lagoon, the administrating authority for the Ramsar Convention, and its responsibilities for protecting indigenous freshwater fish under the Conservation Act.

6.86
DOC's specialist technical staff are well respected and valued for the support they provide to other agencies in the area. However, feedback about DOC staff at higher levels was not as favourable. Feedback indicated that relationships needed to improve for DOC to work more effectively with others in the Waituna Lagoon and surrounding area.

6.87
Some stakeholders did not feel supported by DOC and a lack of trust had developed. Others did not think that DOC was leading efforts to protect biodiversity in the area, even though they saw leadership as a clear part of DOC's role. Overall, DOC was not seen as proactive in working with others to respond to the critical condition of the Waituna Lagoon. This perception does not align well with the responsibilities DOC holds for Waituna Lagoon.

6.88
In our view, DOC needs to clarify and improve its working relationships with other stakeholders in the region to improve its effectiveness in responding to the risks to the Waituna Lagoon.

6.89
Figure 11 sets out our assessment of DOC's work with others as part of its Waituna Lagoon operations.

Figure 11
Our assessment – working with others on Waituna Lagoon as part of operations in the region

Criteria Our assessment
Common understanding of biodiversity risks Tick.
Clarity of shared purpose x
Implemented working agreement or memorandum of understanding x
Clearly defined roles and responsibilities x
Implemented plan of action x
Performance framework x
Results reported x
Adaptive management x
Effective working relationships x
Biodiversity improvements x

Key:
Tick. = The criterion was met.
x = The criterion was not met.
P = The criterion was partly met.

Summary of regional biodiversity groups

6.90
Two of the four regions we visited had set up local, collaborative working groups to manage biodiversity: the Northland Biodiversity Forum (the Northland Forum) and the Southland Biodiversity Forum (the Southland Forum).

6.91
In both regions, the working groups were led by New Zealand Landcare Trust staff and included various regional government agencies and non-governmental groups. DOC contributed funding through the Biodiversity Advice Fund and DOC staff provided specialist advice and support. Participating representatives viewed DOC's funding contribution as essential to the development and co-ordination of both initiatives, and the contribution of DOC's staff was valued by both working groups.

6.92
Both working groups have experienced some achievements and produced some outputs. However, given how long ago they were set up, we expected more biodiversity gains than the groups have reported.

6.93
Representatives of the Northland Forum noted that, despite their achievements after 10 years of operation (for example, preparing a regional strategy), they struggled to identify any tangible improvements to biodiversity. They identified a need for clearly defined objectives and an action plan to improve the Northland Forum's effectiveness in achieving biodiversity outcomes.

6.94
In Southland, the Southland Forum reported success in supporting local landowners to initiate biodiversity management actions and publishing case studies of best practice. The Southland Forum has drafted a regional biodiversity strategy that describes the Southland Forum's objectives. The strategy includes action plans and clearly states the roles and responsibilities of members. However, it has been in draft form for more than three years. The Southland Forum is optimistic that the strategy will be finalised and agreed during 2012.

Case study 7: Northland Biodiversity Forum

6.95
The Northland Forum was set up in 2001. The Northland Forum aimed to foster and implement a "whole-of-Northland approach" to biodiversity enhancement by building on existing co-operation and increasing the effectiveness of existing restoration initiatives.

6.96
The lead agency in setting up the Northland Forum was the New Zealand Landcare Trust. Other agencies providing support and/or funding are the Northland Regional Council, Queen Elizabeth II National Trust, New Zealand Kiwi Foundation,43 Waimate North Landcare, Whangarei District Council, Far North District Council, Kaipara District Council, New Zealand Environmental Trust, Puketi Forest Trust, BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust, New Zealand Fish and Game Council, and the Mid-North Farm Forestry Association.

6.97
DOC and the Northland Regional Council fund a full-time position at New Zealand Landcare Trust to support ongoing co-ordination of the Northland Forum's strategy. Additional funding from Northland Regional Council, DOC, and the Biodiversity Advice Fund also provide support for some of the Northland Forum's activities. DOC also provides specialist advice and support to the Northland Forum.

Effectiveness of the working relationships

6.98
In 2004, the Northland Forum published a self-help kit for landowners interested in restoring biodiversity on their land. In 2005, the Northland Forum was behind the development of the Whole of Northland Project, which aims to integrate biodiversity work throughout Northland. The Northland Forum has published Towards a Strategic Direction for Biodiversity Enhancement, which sets out a comprehensive overview of Northland's biodiversity characteristics and issues. It has also published a guide to accessing funding for biodiversity management.

6.99
In 2008, the Northland Forum acknowledged its achievements but struggled to identify tangible results. The Forum noted that obstacles to overcome included:

  • lack of clarity on the roles of participating agencies and individuals;
  • no clarity of purpose for the Northland Forum as a whole, characterised by a lack of established outcomes and action plans;
  • problems maintaining momentum and continuity because the Northland Forum depends on volunteer representatives; and
  • irregular meetings and no formal contact process.

6.100
As a funder and participant, DOC has a role in supporting the Northland Forum to rectify the noted lack of strategic direction and planning. In our view, DOC could advocate and support the development and implementation of better practices for collaborative initiatives, especially given its new business model and community engagement role.

6.101
DOC could also improve how it follows up on multiple-year applications to the Biodiversity Advice Fund. Although the Fund requires follow-up reports from applicants as a part of assessing eligibility for further funding, it is unclear how reported results are used to assess funding requests. In our view, DOC could provide further support by having good-practice tools and templates available to support community-based collaborative initiatives and link the use of tools and templates to funding criteria and approvals.

6.102
Figure 12 sets out our assessment of DOC's work with the Northland Forum.

Figure 12
Our assessment – working with the Northland Biodiversity Forum

Criteria Our assessment
Common understanding of biodiversity risks Tick.
Clarity of shared purpose Tick.
Implemented working agreement or memorandum of understanding x
Clearly defined roles and responsibilities P
Implemented plan of action Tick.
Performance framework x
Results reported P
Adaptive management Tick.
Effective working relationships Tick.
Biodiversity improvements x

Key:
Tick. = The criterion was met.
x = The criterion was not met.
P = The criterion was partly met.

Case study 8: Southland Biodiversity Forum

6.103
The Southland Forum was set up in 2001. It is jointly funded by DOC's Biodiversity Advice Fund, Environment Southland, and Southland District Council and is supported by the New Zealand Landcare Trust. The Southland Forum is preparing a biodiversity strategy for Southland and working on an inventory of biodiversity throughout Southland. The Southland Forum also helps landowners and community groups to gain funding to help protect and manage native biodiversity on private land.

6.104
The Southland Forum includes a Technical Core Group of representatives from agencies involved in managing or implementing biodiversity protection activities, and a larger advisory group with representation from a range of community groups.

6.105
DOC does not lead or co-ordinate the Southland Forum but has funded its operations for many years.

Effectiveness of the working relationships

6.106
The Southland Forum's draft biodiversity strategy includes objectives that are each supported by a list of goals and indicators of success, actions assigned to people or agencies, completion targets, resources, and tools. The draft strategy includes a section on implementation, monitoring, and review.

6.107
The Southland Forum has focused on working with landowners and community groups. It has helped them secure funding to carry out fencing for protection and animal and weed pest management and has resulted in increased local engagement in managing biodiversity.

6.108
There has been no formal reporting of results to show the Southland Forum's effectiveness. Reports submitted to DOC as a part of the Biodiversity Advice Fund requirements describe activities for the period of funding provided. However, one of the main outputs to be achieved was the biodiversity strategy, which has yet to be completed. Although the Southland Forum has terms of reference, it has no working agreement or plan to co-ordinate its actions.

6.109
In our view, DOC could support the Southland Forum in preparing a reporting framework to assess its progress. We expected DOC to require more formalised performance outcomes and reporting mechanisms as a condition of funding.

6.110
Figure 13 sets out our assessment of DOC's work with the Southland Forum.

Figure 13
Our assessment – working with the Southland Biodiversity Forum

Criteria Our assessment
Common understanding of biodiversity risks Tick.
Clarity of shared purpose P
Implemented working agreement or memorandum of understanding x
Clearly defined roles and responsibilities P
Implemented plan of action x
Performance framework x
Results reported P
Adaptive management x
Effective working relationships Tick.
Biodiversity improvements P

Key:
Tick. = The criterion was met.
x = The criterion was not met.
P = The criterion was partly met.


40: See www.kiawharite.govt.nz for more information about the project.

41: The New Zealand Fish and Game Council (referred to in paragraph 1.18) and 12 regional Fish and Game Councils are collectively called Fish and Game New Zealand. The national and regional councils were set up in 1990 under the Conservation Act (see section 26B) to represent the interests of anglers and hunters and co-ordinate the management, enhancement, and maintenance of sports fish and game.

42: Goal 5 of the action plan is to achieve integrated management by the agencies involved in the project.

43: This is now known as "Kiwis for kiwi".

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Report details

CoverDepartment of Conservation: Prioritising and partnering to manage biodiversity

ISBN 978-0-478-38391-1 (print)
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