Natural character assessments

Developing Natural Character Assessment methodologies

Under the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010, local authorities were tasked with new responsibilities for managing natural character in the coastal environment. Areas of high natural character (at least) had to be identified and mapped and a new term, ‘outstanding natural character’, was introduced.

Recognising the lack of guidance provided, we set about developing a methodology for natural character assessment and terminology interpretation, starting with a two-day in-house practitioner workshop.

“Assessing natural character is not new but our objective was to develop a consistent approach, drawing on experience and case law, that incorporates both landscape and ecological expertise and can be adapted to different types and scales of coastal landscapes,” says landscape planner, James Bentley.

We developed the methodology in the Natural Character Assessment of the Coast and the Marlborough Coastal Assessment for the Horowhenua and Marlborough District Councils respectively, and subsequently in commissions for other local authorities.

“It’s a good start,” James says, “though we’re continuing to refine our approach through peer review processes and workshops with other experts.”

For further information please contact James Bentley

1 May 2012