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Greater Wellington invites input on future of regional parks

Greater Wellington invites input on future of regional parks
August 21, 2020

Greater Wellington is urging people to join a conversation about the future of its regional parks network through getting involved in consultation on its draft Toitū Te Whenua Parks Network Plan, 2020-2030.

The plan, which will provide a blueprint for the development of Greater Wellington’s network of eight regional parks until 2030, focuses on three key areas: recreation, conservation and community participation in parks restoration and development.

Inviting public input, Wellington Regional Councillor and Parks Portfolio Lead Councillor Prue Lamason, advised “this is very much a community owned plan. As part of its development, two years ago we asked the community what it loved and wanted from regional parks.

"The response, from the more than 350 people and organisations that spoke to us, was loud and clear: they loved having a wide range of landscapes across the network, and wanted strong management of the natural environment, active control of pest plants and animals that threaten habitats and easy, all year public access to and within parks.

"Our new draft Toitū Te Whenua Parks Network Plan contains all that and more. We have listened to and incorporated public feedback and now want peoples’ views on how we’ve done."

The plan’s vision of ‘restoring healthy ecosystems for the benefit of people and nature’ resonates with the new name for the plan, which means ‘the land remains’, it’s enduring.

Councillor Lamason noted “to be good custodians we must put care of the land first and foremost. This in turn means people can thrive and share the benefits of working together through restoration work. He waka eke noa, we’re all in this together, moving forward.”

The core goals at the centre of its proposals relate to building positive partnerships with mana whenua, working closely with community groups to get things done, valuing cultural heritage features and landscapes, enhancing the recreational experience, protecting and restoring our natural heritage and managing parks sustainably in the face of climate change.

Setting and meeting clear goals is important as, since the last plan was developed in 2011, new challenges to the network have emerged.

The community is now far more aware of the importance of conservation and restoration. The climate is changing more rapidly than predicted and severe weather events have damaged parks. Opportunities for greenhouse gas sequestration in parks have been identified. Recreation activities have diversified and some, such as cycling and running, have exploded in popularity and need to be catered for.

Councillor Lamason added "the plan addresses each of these issues and clearly spells out how we will approach them in creating a regional parks network that will be fit for the future.

"Nothing stands still. While our eight regional parks may appear to quietly follow the rules of nature, the reality is that their ongoing health and the attractions they offer are closely planned and managed in active partnership with Iwi, friends groups and our many volunteers."

The plan is a composite statutory management plan for eight Regional Parks totalling approximately 33,000 Hectares of public land: Akatarawa Forest; Battle Hill Farm Forest Park; Belmont Regional Park; East Harbour Regional Park; Kaitoke Regional Park; Pakuratahi Forest; Queen Elizabeth Park and Wainuiomata Recreation Area.

Once the plan is finalised, detailed Master Plans will be developed for selected parks, setting out how they will be managed over the next decade.

For more information go to www.gw.govt.nz/parks-network-plan/

Image: Belmont Regional Park (top, courtesy of Tourism New Zealand) and East Harbour Regional Park (below, courtesy of Wellington Regional Trails).

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