Advocacy Update Sam Newton
With regard to advocating on behalf of recreationalists, it is essential that NZRA and indeed all recreational organisations engage closely with the Department of Conservation.
In a recent survey of our Outdoor Recreation stakeholders, 50% reported that they carry out their recreational activity on Public Conservation Land. DoC manages 1/3rd of NZ’s land mass and that figure is growing. In pure monetary terms, the Department of Conservation spends $150m on the provision of recreational opportunities. The Conservation Act explicitly requires that DoC fosters Recreation. It is really important that we, the recreationalists of New Zealand, support (and occasionally nudge) DoC in doing so.
We are in a unique time with regard to National Park Management Plans, which are typically only rewritten by the Department of Conservation every 20 years or so.
This year, the Paparoa National Park Management Plan is being revised. In the next two years, the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park and Westland National Park management plans will be rewritten – vast areas, encompassing numerous recreational opportunities and threats to the quality of that recreation.
Following that, the Fiordland and Aspiring National Park management plans are up for rewrite, which are even more vast in scope and under even greater pressure from tourism interests.
The Department have adopted a slight tweak in their planning process, by which they consult with key stakeholders BEFORE writing each Management plan. The hope is that with pre-consultation, the draft plan will be better written and be less contentious when it arrives at the pubic submission phase. My view is that this is a positive step and am delighted that DoC has consulted with NZRA prior to the Paparoa, Westland and Aoraki Mount Cook National Park Management plans, in recent months.
It is vital the voice and interests of recreationalists are heard in the formulation of all DoC plans and NZRA is making sure of that.