Halting indigenous biodiversity decline: ambiguity, equity, and outcomes in RMA assessment of significance

In New Zealand, assessment of ‘significance’ is undertaken to give effect to a legal requirement for local authorities to provide for protection of significant sites under the Resource Management Act (1991). The ambiguity of the statute enables different interests to define significance according to their goals: vested interests (developers), local authorities, and non-vested interests in pursuit of protection of environmental public goods may advance different definitions. We examine two sets of criteria used for assessment of significance for biological diversity under the Act.