Landscape assessment in New Zealand: Background and current issues
One result of the growth in environmental awareness in the latter half of the twentieth century has been the recognition in New Zealand legislation of a public interest in landscape. The focus of environmental and landscape management in New Zealand is the Resource Management Act 1991(RMA91). The stated purpose of the RMA91 is the sustainable management of natural and physical resources, and this includes a concern for aspects of landscape quality. In particular, councils' preparation of district and regional plans under the RMA91 requires, amongst other things, protection of 'outstanding natural features and landscapes' from 'inappropriate subdivision, use and development' (RMA91 s 6(b)). As a consequence, councils have commissioned a large number of regional and district landscape assessments over the past decade, the results of which are now being translated into policy. Significant criticism has been expressed by some stakeholders - specifically landowners - of the outcomes of this process. Assessment of the effects of development on the landscape is also an important part of the resource consent process, and landscape assessment reports are frequently used by the Environment Court in its adjudication of resource consent cases. As a consequence, the practice of landscape assessment has come under increasing public, professional and judicial scrutiny. This article reviews the background to and summarises a recent survey of current practice in New Zealand landscape assessment. Issues in landscape assessment practice are then discussed, drawing on three professional workshops held in late 1998.... [Show full abstract]
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