Biodiversity and Significant Natural Areas

Protecting our native bush

New Zealand is recognised internationally as a hot spot for biological diversity. Taranaki’s native bush areas, rivers and streams, wetlands and coastal areas provide significant habitats for indigenous flora and fauna species, including threatened species. 

The Council has a legal obligation to protect our native bush or significant natural areas (SNAs).  There are 32 SNAs included in the District Plan in Appendix 21.  A resource consent is required to remove indigenous vegetation within these 32 areas.

We are currently undertaking a review of the SNAs, as part of the review of the District Plan. For further information on the District Plan Review please refer to the District Plan Review page.

Information for landowners who have a Likely Significant Area identified on their property

You can view your property and its surrounds on the web viewer.

Enter your Property ID or LSNA Number (shown in bold on the bottom of your LSNA Map) in the search box or zoom to your property.

The viewer also shows existing protected land (brown areas) and existing significant natural area (solid green areas). LSNAs are outlined by the green hatched line.

For more information please read the factsheet below:

In 2017 the Council sent letters to landowners asking if they would like a field check on their property. We also had open days in local communities allowing landowners to discuss their property one on one with us.

Process for the review of SNAs

We have twice promoted a non-regulatory method to work with landowners in managing biodiversity, and on both occasions we have been taken to the Environment Court – the  most recent being the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society v New Plymouth District Council 2015 .

While the Court acknowledged that providing management advice and funding was beneficial, they considered there are some minimum requirements that a management regime will need to meet: 

  • The District Plan cannot be silent on this issue.
  • Management methods protect identified areas.
  • Mechanisms, including rules, must be considered.

We are now taking a two step process.  


Why has the Council identified an area of vegetation on my property?

We use criteria to identify areas of vegetation which contain significant values. Areas are generally considered important where they are:

  • Naturally uncommon or threatened ecosystem types; or
  • Habitats of threatened or at risk species of native plants or animals; and/or
  • Located in the coastal environment.

How can I get more information on the native vegetation on my property?

The criteria for significant natural areas (SNAs) have been applied by professional ecologists using aerial photography and existing databases of ecological information to identify a number of areas of vegetation around the district, including in the hill country, ring plain, and coastal and urban areas.

To provide further information on the ecological values that are on site, or to remove areas that are not significant, landowners are encouraged to request an ecological field check  This will involve, over the next six months, a Council-appointed and paid-for ecologist visiting the site and providing advice on identified areas. 

Requesting a visit is particularly useful if landowners are uncertain about the ecological values, as it provides the opportunity to discuss these values and any management options.

How will the Council include this SNA information in the District Plan?

This information is proposed to be included in the District Plan through the District Plan review, which is currently under-way. We are required to review all of the provisions of the District Plan every 10 years. This review started in 2015 and we have produced a draft District Plan and released it for public comment. This is the midway point of public consultation, and it allows us to resolve any issues before we produce a proposed District Plan next year for formal consultation. The review of significant natural areas runs alongside the District Plan review.   


So, how do we manage significant natural areas in the New Plymouth District?

The identification of sites and the release of a draft District Plan is the start of a conversation with the community. The community has the opportunity to consider how the clearance of native vegetation will be managed in the district through the District Plan review process.

The Council’s role is to consider the views of the entire community, and determine a District Plan management framework that weighs those views and meets legislative requirements.

Things to consider

  • The listing of significant natural areas in the District Plan will have no practical effect for landowners who wish to continue to retain and enhance their identified areas.  Landowners will not be required to fence or formally protect (covenant) these areas.
  • Existing land uses can continue without additional resource consent requirements (existing use rights).
  • If you have a significant natural area that is included in the District Plan, you will be eligible for rates relief and can apply to the nature heritage fund for assistance with fencing. Other agencies also provide assistance to landowners.