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Eco-Zoning

A plan to support biodiversity in Rural-Zoned areas throughout NZ by working with Councils to get them to embrace the idea of eco-zoning.

 

You may be one of those passionate people who voluntarily gives your time to trapping pests, or planting natives in ecosystem-restoration projects, or weed-busting where old-man’s-beard and banana passionfruit are running rampant - someone who cares deeply about the degradation of our ecosystems countrywide. So you will understand the enormity of the task. I know of many who own properties with infestations and are struggling to do justice to the sheer volume of work required as their properties are too big for them to manage. They are caught by the Rural Zoning rules. I have an idea that involves working with local Councils to get them to adopt an innovative development approach.

 

As you read you’ll see that it’s a win-win-win scenario for three major reasons:

 - firstly it will help restore biodiversity;

- secondly it will benefit landowners wanting to support eco-system restoration;

- and thirdly it will benefit Councils and their obligations to biodiversity.

 

My focus is on land in Rural- Zoned areas where (at least in the Nelson region) 15 hectares is the minimum size allowable. A strong case can be made to allow smaller more manageable sizes where special conservation circumstances apply. I suggest 7 hectares would be an ideal size and these could be called “Rural Development-Sensitive Conservation Areas”.

 

I envisage this as a plan that interested landowners would apply under. These would be people who were keen to restore our native ecosystem, but found the sheer size of the task beyond them. The plan would allow them to subdivide some land off to like-minded parties.It would also apply in areas Councils have identified as significant in terms of existing biodiversity.

 

The size of the lots would need to be large enough to provide a good piece of un-fragmented native forest (or regeneration) with corridors and not too large for the owners to manage. There would need to be the ability to build a house and have a home garden or orchard; but the main thing would be that people couldn’t remove native forest or wetlands, and in fact would buy into this plan for the very reason that they would not want to.

In this age of improved technology and communications the idea of a rural block of land being "economically viable" is out-dated.  People can live rurally and work from home in very remote locations.  It is no longer necessary to "farm" the land to earn a living.

Considering the huge number of volunteers who are passionate about eco-system restoration surely it makes sense that some of these people would love to invest in owning their own property where they could be guardians of nature and live amongst the birdsong, knowing it was something they had restored for posterity.

 

Areas of ecological significance on private land are currently being surveyed, and consultation is going on between Councils and landowners as to how best to protect these areas. This idea sits very well in light of that and, by adopting it, this could be the start of something new and exciting with environmentally- restorative development.

 

So, in summing up, if an area is zoned Rural but is poor farming land there ought to be a place for allowing smaller lots with development-sensitive conservation values – something that enthusiastic people would be proud to buy into. These are the people who are going to make it happen – funding will not be coming from the Government, the Councils, or anyone else!! As I said at the beginning: it’s a win-win-win scenario!

What conservation problem are you trying to solve?

Successful native eco-system restoration on privately-owned land. The task is too enormous for many land-owners.

How are you going to solve this conservation problem?

Get Councils on board to allow smaller lots with conditions that promote eco-system restoration.

What makes your idea new and unique?

I don’t believe this has been done anywhere in NZ.

Who will use your idea, and how will they benefit?

The users of my idea will be Councils that enforce zoning rules; also dedicated supporters of environmental restoration, namely rural landowners who can’t manage the huge task of controlling pest invasion, and passionate eco-enthusiasts who would like to own their own piece of land.

What tasks or activities do you need investment for? How would you spend a $25,000 grant?

The grant could be paid to the first three Councils that come on board to implement this idea.

Are you a New Zealand citizen or resident?

YES

I have read and agree to the Crowdicity Terms of Use, the Conservation Innovation Awards 2017 Supplemental Terms and Conditions, and the Crowdicity Privacy Policy

YES

List five other ideas posted in the challenge that excite you. Why?

1. Make Every School a Forest School

I have a nature playgroup based on my property and I have seen how the children are very well-connected with nature and each other in this setting.  The plan is for a Forest School to be based here in the future.  I love the idea of children being at one with nature - coming to love and care deeply for the environment.  I see the early years as being very important in setting them on the path to adulthood and these children are going to become the future guardians of the land. 

2. Te Rarawa Noho Taiao: growing the next generation of Iwi environmental leaders

Like the Forest School idea this focuses on instilling in younger generations a love for our native flora and fauna.  I believe that if young people develop that feeling of harmony with nature they will become environmentally aware adults.  

3. Predator Proof Bird Nest Boxes

A brilliant idea.  Nesting birds are most vulnerable to predators.  This would give them the chance to rear their young without them being attacked by rats, stoats, cats or possums.

4. A better way to fund permanent forest in Aotearoa

This fits with my idea of re-establishing native forest on land which should never have been cleared. 

5. Baleen Filter

It worries me so much that synthetic fibres are washing into our oceans, day in, day out.  Humans are not going to give up their addiction to synthetic materials easily so this offers a solution at least.

 

How could you improve your idea?

Rather than donate the Grant of $25 000 to the first three Councils who come on board to implement this idea, a better idea would be to pay a lawyer or planner to draft the Consultation and Planning Templates that would enable Councils to easily implement it.

edited on Oct 15, 2017 by Christine Cleveland

Jennifer Mcguire Oct 11, 2017

I like this 3 pronged approach and this strategic thinking. Good luck with this!

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Christine Cleveland Oct 12, 2017

Consultation with Councils will improve chances of uptake of this idea. There is a mindset around "rural" zoning needing to be distinct from "urban" zoning. However with careful planning it is possible to build houses in an unobtrusive way so that rural character is retained. The positive effects of better management of invasive pests on land would outweigh the impacts of homes in these areas.

Conditions would need to be imposed by Councils to ensure restoration is the primary goal for the use of the land. I don't see this as a problem considering there are many who voluntarily put land into QE11 Covenants, create Trusts, put their own private covenants on their properties willingly, or buy properties with covenants on them.

I am absolutely thrilled at the number of people who volunteer in all manner of environmental projects. Councils need to see the potential that this presents, and establish "Eco-zones" to maximise this opportunity.

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Valerie schroeder Oct 12, 2017

This is a helpful idea for landowners and the community to make it more accessable for land maintained and sustainable.

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Valerie schroeder Oct 12, 2017

I want to vote and can't see anywhere to do that.

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Christine Cleveland Oct 12, 2017

Some potential voters have been put off by finding they have to register to vote - this is quite easy to do really, and necessary as part of the process.

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Diana Staaf Oct 12, 2017

Love this picture. Great example of "mixed use" with a significant un-fragmented native forest. Clint

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ValleyAli Oct 12, 2017

As a landowner wanting to care for the land, I have had similar ideas about this. I see that sometimes the task is too big for one family/person but with more people of similar mindset living on the land the work can get done, the land is cared for more intensively, which is better for the community. Well done for putting this idea out there Christine.

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Jennifer Hagberg Oct 14, 2017

Well done Christine. I heartily support your idea. More hands needed indeed to control the constant invasion and destroying of our vitally precious native ecosystems and what better way than to have more guardians committed to this .It is hard enough with our 1/4 acre in the city keeping it free from exotic weed takeover in the bush at the bottom of our garden!

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Jennifer Hagberg Oct 14, 2017

Well done Christine, a great idea

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Jennifer Hagberg Oct 14, 2017

Alan has just voted for you Christine. His comment came under my name below.I do not know how this happened. I had forwarded the WWF email from you to Alan and several others.When he pressed the thumb to vote, the number went down from 19 to 18. We are mystified. Hope you get the numbers up by deadline tomorrow.

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Mark Foote Oct 14, 2017

If you push the 'thumbs up' button having already voted, it will undo your vote, hence reducing from 19 to 18. Push it again and it will add your vote once more. If two of you want to vote, you need to log in via a separate account. :)

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Christine Cleveland Oct 14, 2017

Thanks for that Mark - I have had a lot of feedback that people are not finding it's easy to vote!!!

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Christine Cleveland Oct 14, 2017

And yes, I could have sworn I'd seen 19 votes reduced to 18!!!

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View all replies (3)

Steven MacLeod Oct 15, 2017

This is a really great idea. I wonder if it could be connected to the tiny house movement using woofer style engagement, where people get to stay in exchange for some rent and conservation work. If the councils agreed to this then the work could be easily measured and recorded.

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Christine Cleveland Oct 15, 2017

The concept of tiny houses is a good fit with my idea. I'd like to see a smaller footprint when it comes to house-building, and they would be far less obtrusive in an eco-zone. You have expanded on my idea by suggesting woofer-style engagement - excellent. I do think that could work.

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Lex Foote Oct 15, 2017

Great idea Christine. Nice to know that regional councils are willing to support your ideas. If people are keen to take-up these blocks of native bush & care for them, it will truely enhance value of the wider landscape.

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Christine Cleveland Oct 15, 2017

Yes, exactly! Thanks Lex.

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Michele Frank Oct 15, 2017

The idea has been progressed to the next milestone

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Steven MacLeod Oct 15, 2017

Hi Christine, I woke up thinking about your idea. I've pondered that it might be better called a Conservation Zone. The word conservation is explicit, whereas Eco seems more general and open to abuse.

I also though about how you could get started merging the tiny house movement along with woofer principles. You could develop a protocol and infrastructure for voluntary conservation zones which would essentially be an instruction manual and set of guidelines. People would self assess to be included. Conservation zones would record effort and outcomes using current conservation science. This would prove that it was working and if this data was summerised and voluntarily provided to councils, branded as conservation zone data, then they would see the benefit. This could be achieved without breaking any laws and get the idea up and running without the inevitable 10 year battle with bureaucracy.

Predator free will happen because many different community types with different circumstances need to get involved.

Steven

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