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Wetland Management

Wetlands are crucial to our environment. They form a boundary between land and water, filter out sediment and nutrients, and support a greater concentration of wildlife than any other habitat in New Zealand.

 Proposed amendments

There are currently amendments being proposed to part c) of the definition of a wetland under the NPS-FM. We will update this information when a decision has been made. 

For more information read the Ministry for the Environment’s wetland’s discussion document

The Government’s Essential Freshwater package aims to stop the ongoing loss of wetlands and protect their value by regulating the types of activities that are allowed in and around wetlands.

If you have a wetland on your property, you now have responsibilities to protect it under the new regulations.

What is a wetland?

‘Wetland’ is the collective term for the wet margins of streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, estuaries, bogs, swamps and lagoons. Wetlands aren’t always 'wet'. They provide a habitat for wildlife and support an indigenous ecosystem of plants and animals that have adapted to living in wet conditions.

The new Essential Freshwater regulations apply to natural wetlands as defined in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM). Artificially made wetlands, dams and drainage canals are not classed as wetlands under the new regulations.

If an area doesn’t meet the definition of a wetland under the NPS-FM, it may meet the wetland definition under either the Hawke’s Bay Regional Resource Management Plan (RRMP) or Regional Coastal Environment Plan (RCEP). If so, these rules apply to the wetland.

Key dates:

3 September 2020

New regulations on wetland management came into effect

1 July 2023

All stock must be excluded from natural wetlands identified in Council plans.

1 July 2025

All stock must be excluded from wetlands that support threatened species

1 July 2025

All stock must be excluded from wetlands over 0.05 ha and on low slope land.

Wetland rules

Activities that are allowed in or around wetlands are detailed in the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater 2020 (NES-F).

Any activity which disturbs wetlands can only be carried out for certain reasons, such as restoration, clearing debris or scientific research, and may require consent.

There are limited exemptions to these activities, for example, the customary harvest of food or resources undertaken in accordance with tikanga Māori. Any other activity that may be exempt is subject to the Effects Management Hierarchy.

You must alert the Council in writing at least 10 working days before the activity takes place.

Any activity in and around wetlands must comply with both the Hawke’s Bay RRMP, RCEP and the NES-F.

More Information

Wetland definition

The NPS-FM refers to a "natural wetland" as meaning a wetland that is not:

  • a wetland constructed by artificial means (unless it was constructed to offset impacts on, or restore, an existing or former natural wetland). A wetland constructed by artificial means must have been constructed for a purpose. Construction resulting in a wetland forming is a natural wetland. Any wetland “restored” within the footprint of a former wetland must also be considered against the rules in the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater 2020.; or
  • a geothermal wetland; or
  • any area of improved pasture that, at the commencement date, is dominated by (that is more than 50 percent of) exotic pasture species and is subject to temporary rain-derived water pooling. The Wetland Delineation Protocols should be used to ensure accuracy.

The above refers to the definition of wetland in the RMA, which reads:

  • •Includes permanently or intermittently wet areas, shallow water, and land water margins that support a natural ecosystem of plants and animals that are adapted to wet conditions.
  • The NPS-FM also separately defines a “natural inland wetland” as comprising a "natural wetland" that is not within the coastal marine area.
  • See the Ministry for the Environment's Wetlands factsheet for more information on defining wetlands under the Essential Freshwater package.

The Hawkes’s Bay Regional Policy Statement (only) includes:

(a) permanently or intermittently wet areas, shallow water, and land water margins that support a natural ecosystem of plants and animals that are adapted to wet conditions; and
(b) those areas mapped in Schedule 24 (a to d) and commonly known as:
i) Lake Whatuma (previously known as Hatuma);
ii) Atua Road north swamp;
iii) Wanstead Swamp;
iv) Lake Poukawa

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Resource Management Plan (only) includes;

permanently or intermittently wet areas, shallow water, and land water margins that support a natural ecosystem of plants and animals that are adapted to wet conditions, except for:
(a) wet pasture or cropping land;
(b) artificial wetlands specifically designed, installed and maintained for any of the following purposes:
i) wastewater or stormwater treatment;
ii) farm stock water dams, irrigation dams, and flood detention dams;
iii) reservoirs, dams and other areas specifically designed and established for the construction and/or operation of a hydro-electric power scheme;
iv) land drainage canals and drains; v) reservoirs for fire fighting, domestic or municipal supply; vi) beautification or recreation purposes.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Coastal Environment Plan (only) includes:

permanently or intermittently wet areas, shallow water, and land water margins that support a natural ecosystem of plants and animals that are adapted to wet conditions. It does not include wet pasture; artificial wetlands used for wastewater or stormwater treatment; farm dams and detention dams; land drainage canals and drains; reservoirs for firefighting, domestic or municipal water supply; temporary ponded rainfall; or artificial wetlands created for beautification purposes.

 

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