National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity

The government recently released a draft National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB) for public submissions. Submissions are due 14 March 2020.

Over the next few weeks, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and Federated Farmers will be updating stakeholders on key points of interest to farmers, how to submit and where to attend public and industry meetings.

National Policy Statements must be implemented by Councils through Regional and District Plans. This NPS covers ‘indigenous biodiversity’, which includes ecosystems, birds, plants, insects and other species that are special to New Zealand - our indigenous biodiversity. The NPSIB contains objectives and policies to identify, protect, manage and restore indigenous biodiversity, and specifies what Councils must do to achieve this.

Also see the Ministry for the Environment's webpage: click here

Some common issues and concerns have surfaced at the Federated Farmers/Beef & Lamb roadshow meetings, and our own provincial gatherings, on the National Policy Statement – Indigenous Biodiversity.   See below for our policy team’s comments on these concerns.


  1. Criteria for assessing significant natural areas are really broad. It seems to cover every single indigenous habitat irrespective of its threat status. Can we narrow this? 
    Feds agrees, and we’ve questioned whether the dial has been set right for the SNA criteria. We have been strongly feeding our concerns back to MfE and DoC and our understanding is that the government does appear to be open to reviewing the appropriateness of these – and whether they do match the stated intent – which is to capture the truly significant.  We understand that this week, ecologists (including ones we nominated) have been workshopping the robustness and appropriateness of the criteria, to ensure they only capture the truly significant.

  2. How can Regional and District Councils map these habitats within 5 years? There is not enough expertise in NZ to support this through working with farmers and through on the ground assessments? It would appear that RCs and DCs will need to rely on national maps and inventories which we have not confidence in. 
    We agree. With Freshwater repercussions, council resources will be sparse. However, there is the ability under this NPS for councils to seek an extension to the 5-year timeframe. It also may indicate that where resources are limited, the need for highly mobile fauna assessments should not be the priority, nor should reassessing areas recently assessed under existing plans. The principles embedded in the NPS discourage desktop assessments unless it’s an instance where land entry for assessing is denied, for instance. Federated Farmers fought hard for these principles of engaging with landowners to be included.

  3. This also captures land around SNA’s.  What is the criteria for determining this? Is there a size threshold? Will this mean that entire farms are going to be locked up?
    There’s a bit of a misconception that if you have an SNA identified on your property, it means you  need to ‘lock it up’ and can’t use it.  It’s also been said that you need to fence it all off – that again is not true. We’ve had DoC and Forest & Bird come out in the last week reinforcing the messages in the discussion document that existing use rights remain on the property, even within SNAs – unless activities intensify or change to the point effects becoming worse, or the ecological integrity of the SNA is destroyed/damaged.  We strongly pushed for additional existing use rights to be included within the NPS and our submission will be clearly focused on ensuring the wording in the NPS matches that intent.  That said, we will be submitting to ensure that ‘buffering’ and ‘effects on SNAs’ don’t unnecessarily extend the impacts on farming practices.

  4. It looks like landowners will be required to prove that their existing activities, including those that might be temporal and rotational in nature, e.g. pasture renewal and vegetation clearance, are not impacting on indigenous habitats and species. This will mean it is likely to affect existing land uses and practices doesn’t it?
    This is something that we strongly encourage people to discuss in their submissions. How easy would it be for you to prove this prior use? If difficult, what might you offer as an alternative. Remember, this is our change to reshape provisions to ensure they’re realistic and workable.

  5. New activities are unlikely to be allowed, are they? What does this mean for our ability to adapt to climate change or changes in markets?
    New activities will be a lot harder to get approval for on SNAs. Our submission will be reinforcing the need to provide for flexibility. Our focus on the BCG was to ensure it wasn’t ‘activities’ that were the focus, but the effects of those activities. So, it is not new activities that need to be avoided, but some more significant effects of those activities. Again, this is a great area to submit on.

  6. It seems to impose the highest costs and potential restrictions on those that have done the most? How is this fair? It seems to be grandparenting.
    It’s not grandparenting – and use of this term in this context confuses people given its use through freshwater processes. Obviously, if you have no or little biodiversity, impacts won’t be as high. That said, just because you have indigenous biodiversity, doesn’t mean you can no longer farm. Our focus will be on ensuring that the final plan wording is reasonable and that farming activities can carry on without too many restrictions.

  7. Urban activities and development get off lightly don’t they? It looks like they might be able to offset their loss of indigenous habitats onto the rural environment.
    The effects management hierarchy still applies. In fact, through regional biodiversity strategies there will be an onus on councils to move to a target of 10% of indigenous cover or higher in urban areas. We fought hard to ensure this 10% requirement wasn’t required for rural areas – in some areas, that might be easily achieved, in others it’d be unnecessarily onerous.