Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Issue 4, February 2012

In this issue:

  • Sustainable Development
  • Landcare Research Link


Happy New Year and welcome to Landcare Research’s first MfE e-newsletter for 2012.

In this issue we highlight some new projects or research that we believe could be of interest to council staff throughout New Zealand.

Our new book, Old Problems, New Solutions (OPNS), brings together the different strands of our six-year OPNS programme that examined how water governance has unfolded through disciplinary lenses of law, social science and economics, providing perspectives on a range of different water challenges facing communities, industry, government agencies and the research community.

We include several biosecurity-related articles including an interesting case study of the role that our subsidiary EcoGene® has played in tracking down stoats on Kapiti Island.

Our popular annual Garden Bird Survey is just a few months away and researcher Eric Spurr outlines a bit of the history of this event as well as outlining its importance.

We outline a number of Māori initiatives including plans to update and enhance the land visualisation tool, which was launched last year and is available to everyone who has an interest in Māori Land. It combines updated block (property and legal) data from the Ministry of Justice (Māori Land online) with environmental and land resource data from us.

We highlight work by ourselves and the Regional Council Land Monitoring Forum to complete development of a new tool funded by Envirolink to help with the characterisation, classification and monitoring of land use and land-use change across New Zealand.

And, we include some information on research about the changes in “lifestyle blocks” in recent years. This subject received significant media attention just prior to Christmas.

It’s looking like another busy year for Landcare Research staff and do feel free to contact us if you would like to get involved in our work or receive more details.

Best wishes,
Alison Collins


Old Problems, New Solutions

Old problems, New Solutions coverThousands have lived without love, not one without water.
W. H. Auden

These words, by celebrated poet W. H. Auden, are as appropriate today as when they were written last century.

Water sustains New Zealanders. It underpins every facet of our economy, culture and society. However, now more than ever, we face increasingly complex conflicts over water allocation, pollution and development.

It’s on that note that Landcare Research is proud to present Old Problems – New Solutions: Integrative research supporting natural resource governance, a book bringing together insights and perspectives on water governance in the context of the complex environmental, economic, social and cultural issues that abound it.

The book represents one of the outputs from our six-year multi-disciplinary research programme, Old Problems, New Solutions. The research was designed to complement and support end-user activities in central and regional government , iwi and community organisations and businesses. We acknowledge the insights, information and advice of the many contributors, advisory panels, and end-user organisations who guided and informed this work.

Drawing from disciplines of law, social science and economics, each chapter offers a perspective on water governance and provides conversation starters to engage with issues of water governance and the contribution of research to address issues of sustainability.

While the Old Problems New Solutions project is now complete, further research on related natural resource governance, water management and wider sustainability topics that draws on and develops this work is underway at Landcare Research.

Further information:
Bob Frame


New Zealand Garden Bird Survey

Silvereyes at sugar-water feeder. Image - Deborah BarronThe New Zealand Garden Bird Survey started in 2007 with the objective of monitoring long-term trends in common garden bird populations and is based on the Big Garden Birdwatch in the UK.

Volunteers spend one hour in midwinter each year recording for each bird species the largest number of individuals detected at any one time in their gardens, as an index of bird abundance.

Survey organiser Eric Spurr, says it is too soon to report on long-term trends, but one of the most intriguing findings to date has been regional variation in the abundance of some species.

“Other findings include more species and more individuals of most species in rural than in urban gardens, more individuals of some species and fewer of others in gardens where supplementary food was provided, and changes in the abundance of some species over the 5 years the survey has been running”.

The two most numerous species recorded each year have been the house sparrow and silvereye (see Table 1). Starling and blackbird have been consistently third and fourth. Other species in the ‘top 10’ have varied slightly from year to year, but usually included myna (in the North Island only), tui, fantail, thrush, chaffinch, goldfinch, greenfinch, and/or dunnock. Silvereye, tui, and fantail have been the only native species in the top 10, but another six native species (bellbird, black-backed gull, red-billed gull, welcome swallow, New Zealand pigeon, and grey warbler) have occurred in the top 20.

Table 1. Top 10 birds per garden in the first five years of the survey

  2007   2008   2009   2010   2011*
Silvereye 10.2 Sparrow 11.4 Sparrow 12.1 Silvereye 13.2 Sparrow 12.9
Sparrow 9.4 Silvereye 8.9 Silvereye 6.3 Sparrow 12.6 Silvereye 6.5
Starling 3.1 Starling 3.8 Starling 3.3 Starling 2.8 Starling 2.9
Blackbird 2.7 Blackbird 2.7 Blackbird 2.7 Blackbird 2.7 Blackbird 2.7
Greenfinch 1.2 Chaffinch 1.3 Tui 1.4 Tui 1.2 Tui 1.4
Thrush 1.0 Tui 1.2 Myna 1.0 Chaffinch 1.2 Chaffinch 1.2
Chaffinch 1.0 Dunnock 1.1 Fantail 1.0 Greenfinch 1.2 Fantail 1.2
Goldfinch 0.9 Fantail 0.9 Chaffinch 0.9 Fantail 1.0 Greenfinch 1.0
Fantail 0.9 Thrush 0.9 Thrush 0.9 Goldfinch 1.0 Myna 1.0
Dunnock 0.8 Greenfinch 0.9 Goldfinch 0.8 Thrush 0.8 Goldfinch 0.9

* Preliminary results only. Sparrow is house sparrow, thrush is song thrush.

One of the most intriguing and surprising findings has been regional variation in the abundance of many species, Dr Spurr says. For example, house sparrow was more common in northern regions and silvereye more common in southern regions of the country. The survey cannot explain reasons for this variation, so further investigation is needed. Explanation for the larger number of birds in rural than in urban gardens may be simpler, probably a reflection that rural gardens are larger and more diverse than urban gardens.

Gardens in which supplementary food (e.g. bread, fat, fruit, seeds or sugar-water) was provided had higher counts of some species such as house sparrow, silvereye, starling, chaffinch, bellbird, and greenfinch than gardens without supplementary food.

“This is not surprising, because these species are attracted to supplementary food. However, gardens in which supplementary food was provided also had lower counts of other species, such as goldfinch, fantail, and grey warbler.

“The survey cannot show the reasons for this, but it is likely that the goldfinch was supplanted at bird feeders by the larger more aggressive greenfinch, and the insectivorous fantail and grey warbler may have avoided gardens with supplementary food because the high numbers of some other species attracted to the food (e.g. silvereye) had depleted the local invertebrate food supply. Further investigation is necessary.”

It is too soon to tell whether changes in the abundance indices of some species over the 5 years are just part of normal fluctuations in numbers over time or part of a long-term trend. For example, house sparrow numbers appear to have increased over the 5 years, perhaps in response to favourable environmental conditions or perhaps the species is still recovering from an outbreak of salmonellosis in 2000–2001. On the other hand, silvereye numbers declined by 33% from 2007 to 2009, increased by 110% from 2009 to 2010, and then declined again by c.51% from 2010 to 2011 (final figure not yet available). The survey cannot determine the causes of these declines, but circumstantial evidence suggests the 2009 decline was at least partly caused by an outbreak of avian pox, and the 2011 decline by a mild winter. This latter may seem counter-intuitive, but the mild winter may have meant that silvereyes remained in forests and did not need to move into urban gardens in search of food.

Dr Spurr notes that the gardens surveyed are those of volunteers, not randomly selected gardens, so the results apply only to the gardens of participants, not necessarily to the gardens of New Zealand as a whole.

“Nevertheless, the survey has the potential to alert authorities to changes in garden bird population trends, and to provide circumstantial evidence of the success or otherwise of management actions such as restoration planting and pest control. For example, many contributors to the survey commented that the number of birds in their gardens had increased since local councils had undertaken pest control in nearby forest reserves”.

This year’s survey is planned for 30 June – 8 July. Full details will be placed on the Garden Bird Survey website closer to the time.

Further information:
Eric Spurr


Unravelling the mystery of Kapiti Island stoats

EcoGene staff; helping solve the stoat riddle.Kapiti Island is one of New Zealand’s most important conservation sites, protecting some of the world's rarest and most endangered birds. Free from introduced predators, the island is one of New Zealand's most important nature reserves – an area of uncontrolled natural forest regeneration and a centre for native bird recovery programmes. It is the only large island sanctuary for birds in the lower North Island and is particularly for the little spotted kiwi, which are extinct on the mainland, with Kapiti home to an estimated 1200 of the 1500 NZ total.

A recent stoat incursion is a significant threat to conservation as stoats have previously been undetected on Kapiti Island. The first stoat was initially detected in November 2010, finally caught in February 2011 and was found to be a male. However, in July and August 2011 two subsequent stoats were caught and these were both found to be pregnant females.

Both female stoats were sent to Dr Janine Duckworth who isolated three blastocysts (early stage offspring) from one and five blastocysts from the other female. These stoats, blastocysts and six additional stoats trapped from the mainland at Nga Manu adjacent to Kapiti Island were sent to Ecogene® for DNA analysis.

The Department of Conservation wanted to know whether they were dealing with the incursion of a single individual that has subsequently bred on the island or whether there has been more than one separate incursion. Therefore they needed to know the degree of relatedness between the two females and the male and whether paternity profiles could be obtained from the blastocysts to establish the likelihood that it could be the father.

DNA analysis of stomach contents was also undertaken for each of the stoats to establish diet. Canine teeth were sent to Matson’s Laboratory, Montana (USA), for age analysis.

Estimation of relatedness between the three stoats was obtained by pedigree relationship reconstruction and kin group assignments using molecular markers. This enabled an estimate of pairwise relatedness and a likelihood assessment that a pair of individuals shares a hypothesised pedigree relationship. The hypothesised pedigree relationships tested were full-siblings and parent–offspring.

Molecular identification of gastrointestinal contents was undertaken by amplification of a highly conserved region of the cytochrome-b gene common across a wide range of vertebrates. Resulting DNA sequences were then compared against sequences from GenBank, administered by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).

The data supported the hypothesis that the three stoats captured on Kapiti Island were related. They had a higher probability of relatedness to each other than to any of the individuals from Nga Manu.

The hypothesised parent–offspring relationship was statistically supported for pairs Male –Female 1 and Female 1 – Female 2. This relationship was not supported between the Male and Female 2.

However, the hypothesis of the Male being the father of Female 2 cannot be totally rejected as there is only one piece of data that voids the relationship.

Full-sibling relationship was statistically supported for pairs Male – Female 1 and Male – Female 2. This relationship was not supported between Female 1 and Female 2; however, it is possible that such a result is a bias of the small sample size.

These results suggest Female 1 as the founder female with the Male and Female 2 as part of her offspring.

It was not possible to detect alleles of paternal origin from any of the blastocysts due to either maternal contamination or because the male was so closely related to the female that it was impossible to distinguish paternal alleles. If that was in fact due to the latter reason then it is consistent with that male impregnating both females.

Gut content analysis revealed presence of saddleback in the Male, and tui in Female 2.

Age analysis estimated the Male to be about one year old, which is consistent with a pregnant Female 1 arriving in 2009 and giving birth in the October of that year.

This research has greatly assisted DOC in their attempts to undertake predator control on the island.

Further information:
Frank Molinia
Web: EcoGene®

Land Environments

Māori Land visualisation tool

Garth Harmsworth and Chris McDowall using the Māori Land Visualisation Tool.Manaaki Whenua is looking to further develop a tool that allows Māori Land owners and managers to look at their land and access information to help them better understand the resources and potential.

The prototype land visualisation tool was launched last year and is available to everyone who has an interest in Māori Land and combines updated block (property and legal) data from the Ministry of Justice (Māori Land online) with environmental and land resource data from Manaaki Whenua.

This year, with further support from Te Puni Kōkiri (Ministry of Māori Development), the options to extend the tool and develop a sustainable platform for its ongoing availability and development are being considered.

The prototype provides landowners with a “broad brush” land assessment by showing areas at national scale suitable for horticulture, cropping, pastoral farming, forestry and areas needing long-term protection. However, the aim of new research is to improve the level of information available and enable the tool to be used as the basis for land use decision-making and development of the Māori economy.

The work will include engagement of Māori Land owners and organisations to build a picture of the information that will help them – individually or collectively – to determine the best land-use options for their land.

The technical development that enables the apparently simple delivery of multiple underlying layers of complex information calls on the skill of the informatics science team at Manaaki Whenua. They essentially translate GIS layers into a visual format similar to Google Earth – this makes it intuitive for end-users who do not need special software or skills to be able to access and explore the land information of interest to them. The future in this type of information delivery is exciting and Manaaki Whenua is adding this accessibility to a range of online products and services it provides that are used to help understand, monitor and manage New Zealand’s land resources.

The prototype tool remains available at and here users can already:

  • create a customised report of the environmental characteristics for any Māori Land block with land located by using either an interactive map or by searching for a block name or place name
  • generate a series of resource maps, statistics, and descriptive information detailing land resources and presents this information to the user as an interactive webpage. The data is displayed over topographic maps, satellite imagery and aerial photographs.

“There has been huge interest in the tool when we have demonstrated it at conferences and workshops around the country, especially from Māori Land owners and Māori organisations such as trusts and incorporations, and many government departments,” says Garth Harmsworth, from the Manaaki Whenua development team.

Further information:
Marino Tahi

New Zealand Land Use Database Project

Landcare Research and the Regional Council Land Monitoring Forum are completing development of a new tool funded by Envirolink to help with the characterisation, classification and monitoring of land use and land-use change across New Zealand.

Tentatively named the “Land Use Classification and Analysis Support System” or LUCLASS for short, the tool is designed to aid users in combining a range of input data to produce customised land information products that meet a variety of needs. LUCLASS consists of several components (Figure 1):

  • A database containing the information needed to process input data to produce the resulting land-use information
  • Two executable programmes: one for atomising the input data and a second for classifying it
  • A parameter file to store information needed to rerun the classification process.

Schematic of LUCLASS
Figure 1: Schematic of LUCLASS

Researcher Daniel Rutledge says LUCLASS works by taking input data and dividing it into individual data “atoms” according to user-specified rules. Each data atom holds a single piece of information depicted at the spatial and temporal resolution desired by the user, subject to the resolution of the original data. LUCLASS then processes and combines the individual data atoms according to additional user-specified rules to produce land-use maps (technically geospatial data layers) that meet desired classification specifications.

LUCLASS aims to promote consistency, repeatability (i.e. land-use change), reliability and transferability of land-use information across scales and across organisations. The project has also produced a draft national land-use classification designed by regional council to meet their needs. Other organisations could generate land-use information using the same classification, could modify the classification to suit their own needs, or could generate an entirely new classification as desired.

Currently LUCLASS requires an ArcGIS Version 10 licence to run but we eventually want to make LUCLASS web-based and accessible to anyone wanting to create and explore their own land-use information.

Further information:
Daniel Rutledge

Lifestyle blocks and the loss of New Zealand’s productive soils

We’ve experienced extensive media interest and general queries about our new research showing the huge increase in ‘lifestyle blocks’ across New Zealand and which raises wider questions over our attitude to the slow but ongoing loss of valuable, high quality and productive land.

Researchers Robbie Andrew and John Dymond say their work, soon to be published, shows there are now 175,000 lifestyle blocks, up from 100,000 just 13 years ago, and this means that 10% of the country’s high-class land is now occupied by these blocks of land.

Meanwhile, 29% of the 25,000 hectares of new urban areas developed between 1990 and 2008 occurred on high class land. In Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough a high proportion of urbanisation has occurred on high-class land (49% and 50% respectively).

High quality land is defined as land capable of being used intensively to produce a wide variety of crops, including arable crops.

Robbie Andrew and John Dymond say high quality land is a valuable, limited, non-renewable resource, and should therefore be protected for the use of future generations. High quality land and versatile soil, which is one of its core attributes, are strategic assets.

While they’ve traditionally been ignored and abused, soils are vital to the ongoing health and wealth of the country:

  • A tablespoon of soil holds more organisms than there are people on earth.
  • 25% of New Zealand’s GDP is derived from soil-dependent industries.
  • New Zealand’s ongoing wealth is derived from a thin 15-cm layer of topsoil.
  • Nature takes hundreds of years to make several centimetres of topsoil but due to unwise land use we can lose this much in less than a day.
  • New Zealand loses 200 million tonnes of soils to the ocean each year – this is a rate ten times faster than the rest of the world.

The research concludes that there are no effective, nationally consistent, preventive measures against the gradual whittling away of the same productive land by urbanisation and subdivision.

“There are significant benefits to rural subdivision, such as reinvigoration of rural communities, increasing rural school rolls, building resilience through diversifying production methods and the improved quality of life of those with lifestyle blocks.”

“However, our work raises some important questions; do lifestyle blocks constitute loss of productive land and are high quality lands adequately protected?”

The authors say that past research suggests that small landholders do not generally engage in high levels of production.

One factor that affects rural productivity is “reverse sensitivity” whereby the sensitivities of new rural residents can impinge on the production activities of neighbouring properties. These include sensitivities to the use of sprayed chemicals and odours from farming operations. This can affect productivity of agricultural and horticultural operations, and there have been cases where permission has been granted for further subdivision as a result of this lost productivity. That is, a farm’s productivity may decline because of reverse sensitivity, contributing to a later decision to subdivide that farm, so leading to further subdivision.

Reverse sensitivity is one reason why it’s impractical to reverse rural subdivision, the authors say. The other reason is the higher value of lifestyle properties, no longer reflecting the productive potential of the land, can preclude repurchase for productive purposes.

Robbie Andrew and John Dymond say New Zealanders need to give more thought to the value and protection of our high quality soils and productive land, particularly given ongoing worldwide issues around the supply of food.

As high-production land is taken out of production, alternative food supplies must be sought. Importation of food can increase New Zealand’s exposure to global price fluctuations and loss of control over methods of production. Meanwhile, production on lower quality land requires increased resource inputs and management, with increased costs and increased environmental pressures.

Further information:
John Dymond

Sustainable Development

Kaitiaki Environmental Impact Assessment and Reporting (KEIA-R)

A new framework aims to assist kaitiaki practitioners facing growing workloads to respond to day-to-day resource management issues. Māori organisations increasingly have to address complex and interconnected cultural, social, environmental and economic issues and facilitate interaction/engagement with many agency, industry and community groups.

Frameworks and tools are important ways of organising and applying knowledge to address complex and multi-dimensional issues and the KEIA-R framework developed by Manaaki Whenua could help identify issues of cultural connection to landscape-use and cultural values within a Māori community.

Environmental planning and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) generally lack significant Māori participation and involvement, which results in a paucity of qualitative and quantitative data about cultural impacts to community health and well-being from activities such as roading, mining, contaminants, agricultural, industrial and urban development.

Māori are also increasingly asserting their rights to effectively manage natural and cultural resources through governance mechanisms that achieve greater participation, ownership, and co-management. However, effective management requires meaningful ways to connect to, articulate, monitor and report on impacts to specific tangible and spiritual values that support kaitiakitanga (environmental guardianship).

Increasing Māori community capability to effectively engage in these processes through the use of a ‘tool-box’ approach was the focus of this research. We worked with kaitiaki end-users, who identified their issues and concerns and requirements for a framework that can scope the issues, identify appropriate tools, and help with responses and decision-making.

A case study approach has been used to develop the KEIA-R framework, driven by local issues to identify a Māori community’s aspirations, values, needs, and expected outcomes for their hapū and representative marae. The framework was developed collaboratively with Māori organisations under the umbrella of the Waahi Whaanui Trust (an established Māori Trust within the tribe of Waikato-Tainui) and with six marae that have a strong genealogical connection to their ancestral river and lands. We provide examples of the use of this framework particularly in response to increasing pressures (e.g. degradation, exploitation, and privatisation) on both natural and cultural resources.

The KEIA-R framework addresses cultural-environmental issues and required actions and is designed to scope the needs of kaitiaki. It offers a step-by-step guide and process for kaitiaki practitioners. It is designed to help kaitiaki respond to day-to-day cultural-environmental issues (e.g. processing resource consents) based on their needs, goals, aspirations and desired outcomes. The KEIA-R is based on elements relevant to defining cultural connection to landscape-use and cultural values as these relate to environmental issues.

Further information:
Garth Harmsworth

Building mana whenua partnerships for urban design

Entrance to Pegasus Town, North Canterbury.Māori and local authorities have made huge strides in developing and fostering positive working relationships, particularly since the passing of the Resource Management Act in 1991. However, 20 years later there still remains a high degree of frustration at the lack of Māori perspectives and knowledge in planning and policy. This lack of incorporation of Māori knowledge (mātauranga Māori), values, and active involvement is particularly evident in urban environments where 85% of Māori now live.

The Kaitiakitanga of Urban Settlements research programme addresses knowledge gaps in the urban planning environment by producing mātauranga-Māori-based frameworks, methods and tools to facilitate the inclusion of mātauranga Māori in planning practice and to build Māori and iwi/hapū capacity.

It has also established a national network of talented Māori researchers and practitioners that are making a significant contribution around Aotearoa New Zealand in mātauranga-Māori-based planning and urban design. It has developed a pātaka (storehouse of tools and processes) that can be used by planners and iwi/hapū resource managers to increase the use of and evaluate the incorporation of mātauranga Māori in decision-making, policy and plans.

An assessment framework (and processes) that can be used by planners, developers and iwi/hapū resource managers to plan and evaluate the incorporation of mātauranga Māori within decision-making, policy, planning and development has also been developed by the research programme.
Researcher Shaun Awatere says the following key findings emerged from the project:

  • The key to successful implementation of kaitiakitanga in urban settlements is positive relationships between iwi/hapū/whānau, property developers, community groups, and local government that have beneficial outcomes for all agents involved.
  • Urban development projects need working groups that include a skilled iwi/hapū representative who is continuously active in the project, well-resourced and involved in monitoring the implementation of mātauranga-Māori-based design solutions.
  • Mātauranga Māori is context specific and needs to be tailored to solving specific issues within specific geographic areas, under the guidance of mana whenua. Through this research, however, we have found certain elements and processes that, if adhered to, can lead to the effective incorporation of mātauranga Māori into urban planning. A genuine attempt at recognising kaitiakitanga in urban development will consider the worldview of iwi/hapū together with the sustainability goals of local government.

Note: This guide is extracted from a paper ‘Kaitiakitanga o ngā ngahere pōhatu’ (Kaitiakitanga of urban settlements) published in December 2011.

Further information:
Shaun Awatere

Transitioning urban settlements

Many New Zealand urban councils are adopting ambitious long-term plans to transition to more compact urban form and sustainable transport, energy and water systems. Councils cannot rely on market forces to drive these transitions in a timely equitable fashion, but will need to actively facilitate them.

This presents considerable challenges, particularly when transitions must be initiated before the impacts of global change are directly felt by urban residents.

Research undertaken by Claire Mortimer examines the following questions:

What factors might constrain policy agencies in facilitating social and technical transitions in urban settlements? Conversely, what factors enable policy agencies to facilitate social and technical transitions in urban settlements?

These two questions are examined by developing the Adaptive Urban Policy Framework below, consisting of five levels of influence on policy practice:

  • The social and physical landscape: the macro social institutions and physical structures that shape the city, social practices and the policy environment
  • Socio-technological regimes: the social and technological systems that provide the dominant means of realising different social functions (e.g. land transport)
  • The organisational field: the association of actors that frequently and influentially interact with the policy agency and the rules and norms that develop between those actors
  • The urban policy organisation: usually a city or regional council but also includes parts of central government
  • Individuals: within a policy organisation.

Five levels of influence on policy agencies attempting to facilitate urban transitions
Figure: Five levels of influence on policy agencies attempting to facilitate urban transitions

The framework was tested on a case study of Waitakere City Council and its “Eco City” transition over an 18-year period.

The research identifies that an agency’s ability to facilitate transitions is constrained by the stability of wider societal structures, institutions specific to local and central government (including the limited role and revenue sources of local government), the built environment and incumbent technologies. These factors co-evolve over time and lock a city into specific urban trajectories, for example urban sprawl and private-car dependency.

However, the case study found that opportunities for change are often created when disruptive events occur at the different levels of the framework.

Entrepreneurial individuals, sometimes in unison but often as a loose network, are able to recognise and leverge these windows of opportunity to initiate policy innovation. In the case of Waitakere City Council, disruptions included growing international and national awareness of environmental limits, growing urban pressure in Auckland, and the 1989 reform of local government that created the new council. New senior staff and a local political coalition leveraged off these disruptions and brought about an intentional culture change and innovative policy thinking into the council.

To ensure implementation, the framework literature and the case study suggest that transition policies must become embedded within the agency’s decision-making processes and the agency will need to build strategic coalitions with other decision-makers and actively engage with their urban community.

What does this suggest for councils attempting to instigate urban transitions?

Firstly, the timing has to be right and, secondly, councils need to build on those factors they have most influence over, including visionary leadership that enables innovation; strong internal and external collaboration; and the systematic implementation of city strategies.

Finally, if a council is considering adopting transition policies from other cities they should identify historical factors that led to the policy first being introduced and then what factors, including the attributes of the people involved, were then key to successful implementation. This could provide additional information for the comparative policy analysis, including the attributes that might be required within their own policy organisation and city community to adopt and implement successfully the policy in question. The five levels of the Adaptive Urban Policy Framework might therefore be used as an additional tool for this comparative policy analysis.

How the research might be relevant

Success in facilitating urban transitions requires more than the identification of the right set of interventions. It also requires the right attributes at the organisational and individual levels, the right attributes within the community, and the presence of broader enabling institutions at the organisational-field level to support change.

The case study identifies that change does not need to wait for the most powerful or obvious contenders, but rather even small urban agencies can set micro-processes of change into play that initiate sustainability transitions.

However, the transition needs to start from within the agency itself, and the research concludes with recommendations for how urban agencies might intentionally build their capacity to facilitate change.

Policy innovation has to be embedded within the culture of the organisation and into the organisation’s implementation mechanisms to achieve action on the ground and to ensure momentum is maintained even when key individuals leave the organisation.

The organisational and individual levels of the Adaptive Urban Policy Framework outline a range of attributes and processes that build the capacity of urban policy agencies to facilitate change in urban settlements.

The Waitakere City Council case study demonstrated that many of these organisational attributes were intentionally developed within the council over a decade of change management. This suggests that the capacity for facilitating significant change can be built within policy agencies in the same way community resilience research suggests general resilience can be developed within communities.

Groups of key individuals in policy organisations are instrumental in developing adaptive policy. They may have complementary skills, some in initiating and creating visions of change and others in bedding change into implementation mechanisms.

Urban policy organisations are only one influencer in urban transitions and therefore need to work with other groups to extend their influence; they also need the skills and institutions to do this effectively. Their limited role, especially that of New Zealand city councils, however, may ultimately limit their ability to effect substantive or rapid change.

Equally, societal expectations of high consumption lifestyles and the deeply held paradigm of limitless economic growth have shaped modern urban societies. These social paradigms, which are established at the landscape level, will pose significant barriers to sustainable urban transitions.

Further information:
Claire Mortimer

Landcare Research Link: A new series of short seminars and discussions for environmental policymakers

Our fourth seminar is coming up and while it’s being hosted by DOC it will be of interest to regional council staff.

Watch this space – monthly events covering Freshwater Values, Land Use and Pest Technologies coming up; contact Christine Harper if you need to know more or want to be included on the mailing list (sorry – only held in Wellington).

Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services – getting our act together with IPBES

Geoff Hicks of DOC will deliver an overview of New Zealand’s place at the table on the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IPBES) – the global response to insufficient knowledge on status and trend. Fiona Carswell, Science Team Leader for Ecosystems and Global Change at Landcare Research, will present New Zealand research that aligns ecosystems services and biodiversity. Discussion on how New Zealand can support the goals of IPBES, and the role(s) we will play, is sure to be lively!

Tuesday 28 February
12 noon to 1 p.m.
Department of Conservation
Manners Street, Wellington
Level 4 Conference Room

Further information:
Christine Harper

MfE Update

via email