New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2008) 32(2): 238- 239

Assessing significance under the RMA – moving forwards: a reply to Walker et al. (2008)

Forum Article
David A. Norton 1*
Judith Roper-Lindsay 2
  1. Rural Ecology Research Group, School of Forestry, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
  2. Boffa Miskell, PO Box 110, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

Walker et al. (2008) are critical of the methods used by ecologists and others with ‘vested interests’ to identify significant biodiversity values and provide for their protection under the Resource Management Act (1991) (RMA), particularly the use of the draft criteria proposed in Norton & Roper-Lindsay (2004). However, we believe that their criticism is flawed because of their failure to fully understand the context of the Norton–Roper-Lindsay criteria; unjustified presumptions they make about the roles of ecologists in assisting those applying for resource consents and administering the RMA; and a failure to take into account the current realities of native biodiversity conservation for those parts of New Zealand covered by the RMA. In this reply we address these issues and outline a way to move forwards in this debate.