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Principles for Decision Making

Eight key principles were identified to guide the resource management decisions made by councils (these are outlined in our Policy Brief 3). These decisions should be transparent, integrated, consistent, relevant, practical, adaptive, efficient, and equitable. The principles are not designed to get the ‘right’ answer, but rather to provide a structure to support councils make more robust and defensible decisions.

Policy Choice Framework

The Policy Choice Framework helps decision-makers choose policy instruments or interventions that are most likely to influence the behaviour of water users (broadly defined) and thereby improve freshwater outcomes. This framework is generally applicable to all resource management decisions. An updated version includes guidance on identifying types of trust between organisations and how this may affect cooperation. There is also an Ecology and Society journal article on the framework.

Using economic modelling to inform limit setting processes for freshwater resources

Water limits are being set across the country in response to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. How these limits are implemented will have farm-, catchment- and regional-scale economic impacts. Policy Brief 6 explores some of the key economic questions being asked, how to address them, and the modelling approaches to use.

Designing policy

There is a fundamental structure to natural resource policy problems. Our Policy Brief 11 outlines 3 stages in the policy design process. Understanding these stages helps policy designers to focus on the right information at the right times and to improve their understanding of the people aspect of the policy problem. There is also an Ecology and Society journal article on these stages.

Survey of rural decision makers

The Survey of Rural Decision Makers provides comprehensive information on land use and land-management practices, demographics, employment and income, farmer networks, innovation, trust, outlook and planning. Over 1500 respondents from all 16 regions took part in the 2013 survey to share information about their farms, forests and growing operations. In 2015 there were over survey 3000 respondents. The results of the survey — the first of its kind in New Zealand — can be used to inform freshwater management as well as other environmental policy decisions. Results are publicly available for the 2013 and 2015 surveys.

Allocating nutrient caps

There is no universal ‘best’ approach to allocate nutrients to landowners. Efficiency and equity implications can be used to assist this allocation decision. However, efficiency and the equity implication of the various allocation approaches do differ depending on existing land use, land characteristics, and the stringency of the regulation. These findings are outlined in our Policy Brief 12. There is also an Ecological Economics journal article outlining the findings.

Predicting the effects of water abstraction and land use intensification on gravel bed rivers

This report describes a Bayesian network that has been developed to support decision-making for large New Zealand gravel bed rivers where freshwater planning needs to balance increasing demands for irrigation water to support economic growth with in-stream ecological, social and cultural values.

Reflections on New Zealand’s evolution in water management

Policy Brief 20 provides reflections and insights into how freshwater planning has changed over the period of the VMO programme (2009-2016). The insights are based on 4 themes – approaches to freshwater management, changes in roles of regional councils, changing science needs and changing ways of involving the community


Please note that Landcare Research continues to produce Policy Briefs to provide research insights for government, councils, and industry on a wide range of issues.