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Significant natural areas of the Waikato District: terrestrial and wetland ecosystems

TR 2017/36

Report: TR 2017/36

Author: Wiea van der Zwan & Gerry Kessels (Kessels Ecology)

About this report

Waikato Regional Council has a strategic objective to identify and prioritise areas of indigenous flora and fauna habitats within the Waikato region for biodiversity management. Identification of Significant Natural Areas (SNA) is an important step in managing the region’s natural heritage, and meeting the requirements of the Resource Management Act 1991. The objectives of the Waikato district SNA project were to identify and assess the ecological significance of the remaining natural areas within the Waikato District based on RPS, and to provide the council and Waikato District Council with a foundation data set for prioritising biodiversity management needs.

This project was carried out in collaboration with Waikato District Council - an extensive community wide consultation with the landowners, allowed for the further refinement of the data set and ranking of each affected SNA. The public consultation process revealed that the majority of landowners were very motivated to protect and restore SNA found on their land.

The results show that 698 sites, comprising an area of 71,312 ha (16.4 per cent) of the Waikato District, consists of significant natural areas. A total of 107 nationally threatened and at risk species have been recorded as being present within the Waikato District.

The SNA information in this report will assist both councils in their development of policies, incentives and rules in relation to their obligations of the Resource Management Act. In addition, the dataset and management recommendations can provide a guide to stakeholders and developers on strategic opportunities on how to protect and restore these significant natural areas.

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Significant natural areas of the Waikato District: terrestrial and wetland ecosystems [PDF, 6.7 MB]


  Executive summary
1 Introduction
2 Objectives
3 Methodology
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Literature review
3.3 GIS mapping and analysis


Base spatial data
3.3.2 Design scale
3.3.3 Minimum mapping unit (MMU)
3.4 Significance assessment and level of significance
3.4.1 Descriptive attributes
3.4.2 Significance assessments
3.4.3 Community and landowner consultation process
4 Ecological character of the Waikato District

General overview


Hill Country Ecological Management Zone (Awhitu, Hunua, Hapuakohe, Hauraki and Manukau EDs)

4.2.1 Overview and landforms
4.2.2 Bioclimatic zones
4.2.3 Geology and soils
4.2.4 Vegetation
4.2.5 Flora
4.2.6 Fauna
4.2.7 Distinctive ecosystem types

Waikato Floodplains Ecological Management Zone (Meremere ED)

4.3.1 Overview and landforms
4.3.2 Bioclimatic zones
4.3.3 Geology and soils
4.3.4 Vegetation
4.3.5 Flora
4.3.6 Fauna
4.3.7 Distinctive ecosystem types

Western Hill Country and Coast Ecological Management Zone (Raglan and Kawhia EDs)

4.4.1 Overview and landforms
4.4.2 Bioclimatic zones
4.4.3 Geology and soils
4.4.4 Vegetation
4.4.5 Flora
4.4.6 Fauna
4.4.7 Distinctive ecosystem types
4.5 Hamilton Basin Ecological Management Zone (Hamilton and Maungatautari EDs)
4.5.1 Overview and landforms
4.5.2 Bioclimatic zones
4.5.3 Geology and soils
4.5.4 Vegetation
4.5.5 Flora
4.5.6 Fauna
4.5.7 Distinctive ecosystem types
5 Threatened environments and species of the Waikato District
5.1 Extent of Nationally Threatened Environments within Waikato District
5.2 At risk, threatened and notable species and other significant features
5.2.1 At risk and threatened flora species Vascular plants
5.2.2 At risk and threatened fauna species Freshwater invertebrates Freshwater fish Herpetofauna (frogs and reptiles) Avifauna (birds) Mammals
5.2.3 Regionally uncommon species
6 Results of the Significant Natural Areas inventory and assessment
6.1 Significant Natural Areas inventory
6.2 Vegetation composition analysis
6.3 Landowner consultation results
6.4 Limitations of assessment
7 Conclusions
8 Recommendations for management of SNA
8.1 Hill Country Ecological Management Zone
8.2 Waikato Floodplains Ecological Management Ecological Zone
8.3 Western Hill Country and Coast Ecological Management Zone
8.4 Hamilton Basin Ecological Management Zone
8.5 Key recommendations
9 Glossary
10 References and selected bibliography
Appendix I: Key Natural Areas Data and Literature for the Waikato District
Appendix II: Criteria for the Assessment of Significance of Natural Areas
Appendix III: Previous Regional Policy Statement
Appendix IV: Types of Legal Protection in the Waikato District
Appendix V: Confidence Levels for Significant Natural Area Assessments
Appendix VI: Metadata for the “Significant Natural Areas – “Waikato District” Data set
Appendix VII: Significant Natural Areas per Ecological management Zone
Appendix VIII: Ecological district statistics
Appendix IX: Photos
Appendix X: Species glossary