Conservation minister Kiri Allan excited to hear public's view on conservation processes

Kiri Allan is looking forward to hearing people's view on changes to conservation processes.
Kiri Allan is looking forward to hearing people's view on changes to conservation processes. Photo credit: Newshub


Conservation minister Kiri Allan says she is looking forward to hearing people's views on proposed changes to conservation concession processes.

A discussion document issued by the minister earlier this week sets out three key areas being looked at in relation to conservation management and processes - part of a "pathway of reforms" Allan announced in December 2021.

Some of the proposed law changes aim to simplify the process of assessing conservation land concession applications.

The Department of Conservation manages more than 4600 active concessions and receives roughly 1000 applications a year from tourism operators, farmers and others.

Allan told Morning Report one of the issues was that concession applications had to be considered "in light of conservation management plans and conservation management strategies", which themselves needed to be reviewed every ten years to ensure they were fit for purpose.

"The concessions are right at the bottom, and that comes through a long kind of food chain of areas where decisions have to be made," she said.

The reviews were not currently happening because they were "incredibly hard to get done", Allan said, "so this is basically proposing a whole range of amendments to make that [process] more efficient and basically ensure more pragmatic outcomes".

Conservation law, in general, needed some "fundamental reform and overhaul," she said.

"We know that's a pretty significant piece of work; we're working with laws that are around 70 years old in some areas."

Allan said conservation land made up one-third of New Zealand and reform of the process by which concessions were assessed had been called for by everyone from tourism concessioners and scientists, to organisations like Forest and Bird.

"Concessions are really causing a big issue for folks."

Allan denied New Zealand's environmental credentials would be damaged by the review and said she was looking forward to hearing "the detailed aspects of people's views" via the submissions process.

Announcing the proposed reforms last year, Allan said better laws would equip Aotearoa with the tools to deal with threats to biodiversity including climate change and introduced pests.

In addition to simplifying permit and concession processes, the proposed reforms include a review of the Wildlife Act, increasing the protection of Hauraki Gulf and addressing issues with outdated national park rules.