Mahurangi Action Plan draft working paper: Issues and scoping

by | 17 Aug 2009 | Action plan planning | 0 comments

Aerial of Mahurangi River looking downstream from Hamiltons Landing

One of the Two Biggies: The elevated sediment accumulation rate is one of the two big items the Mahurangi Action Plan must address. The other is the harbourscape of outstanding natural beauty—first natural harbour north of the metropolis and remarkably un-built. Photograph Auckland Regional Council

Introduction – executive summary

This report follows the meeting of the Mahurangi Action Plan planning workshop on 10 August 2009. It scopes the issues, provides an outline for the vision statement and discusses the information that may be needed for the technical working papers.

By way of background, the five-year Mahurangi Action Plan had the objective: ‘To halt, slow or reverse the adverse effects of sedimentation on the health of the Mahurangi Harbour.’ The strategic plan should take a much broader view, both in the scope of the issues and outcomes to be addressed in the plan and the timeframes.

The content of this working paper will be discussed at the next drafting workshop on 24 August 2009, with a view to finalising the vision and agreeing the scope of the working papers so that these can be commissioned.

1.0 The vision

Mahurangi Harbour will be:

  • A vibrant healthy harbour (river and harbour)
  • A treasured resource with high natural values
  • A healthy and robust landscape
  • A clean, navigable river
  • A centre for recreation and a destination for water-based sport (kayaking, boating, swimming, fishing etc)
  • A significant contributor to the local economy (oyster beds and tourism)
  • Accessible, whilst protecting cultural heritage
  • A flagship for education and community driven initiatives within the Auckland region
  • An exemplar of how a catchment should be managed
  • An engaged, informed, passionate and connected community that acts as stewards of the harbour and monitor and manage its use

2.0 Issues by topic

Both the issues facing the catchment and the outcomes sought for the catchment can be grouped into the following topics:

  1. A healthy harbour
  2. A healthy landscape
  3. Enjoyment of the harbour—public use and recreation
  4. Using the harbour economically—a commercial asset
  5. Stewardship and advocacy for the catchment

The five topics identified above can be used to group the potential problems or issues for the Mahurangi catchment.

2.1 Health of the harbour

Existing issues we face or have faced:

  • Water quality
  • Sedimentation—runoff
  • Erosion of foreshore
  • Pollutants
  • Recognise the impact of land use on the quality of the harbour
  • Ecosystems/biodiversity
  • State of the river

Potential issues in the future (new ones and ones which may return):

  • New pollutants—e.g. biological
  • Encroachment of mangroves

Where do we want to be in 5–10 years time on this topic:

  • Strive to get the harbour back to its natural tipping point (restore health of the harbour)
  • Have a healthy harbour where we can gather food, and recreate

2.2 Health of the landscape

Existing issues we face or have faced:

  • Riparian margins have been and will continue to be enhanced
  • Forestry land use is a concern—runoff
  • Farming—run-off
  • Erosion

Potential issues in the future (new ones and ones which may return):

  • Land use change
  • Intensification of use of the catchment

Where do we want to be in 5–10 years time on this topic:

  • Protection of landscape character
  • Sustainable land use management practices

2.3 Enjoyment of the Harbour

Existing issues we face or have faced:

  • Want more of the community to be involved
  • Enhance channel access

Potential issues in the future (new ones and ones which may return):

  • Decreased accessibility for boats
  • Potential loss of navigation channels due to estuary infilling
  • Resource pressure on existing mooring/potential establishment of new moorings

Where do we want to be in 5–10 years time on this topic:

  • Operate and maintain a healthy harbour

2.4 Using the harbour economically

Existing issues we face or have faced:

  • Continued (and enhanced?) ability to commercially farm oysters
  • Ability to access the harbour for tourism
  • Want more of the community to be involved

Potential issues in the future (new ones and ones which may return):

  1. Land use discharge – increased concentrations of sediments, nutrients and heavy metals
  2. Plant and algae contamination

Where do we want to be in 5–10 years time on this topic:

  1. No contaminant threats to harvesting our kaimoana
  2. Healthy stocks of kaimoana
  3. Oyster beds open for the maximum time
  4. A destination for residents and visitors alike

2.5 Stewards of the harbour

Existing issues we face or have faced:

  • Want more of the community to be involved/ community governance of the harbour
  • Education on use and management of the harbour

Potential issues in the future (new ones and ones which may return):

  1. Conflicting pressures between community desire for recreational use and development vs retaining and enhancing the catchment’s natural values
  2. Protect the story for future generations of how we have worked to restore the harbour
  3. Funding our work

Where do we want to be in 5–10 years time on this topic:

  • The next generation understands how to care for our Harbour and understands how to use the land in the catchment in a responsible manner
  • Recognised for the health of our harbour—the improvements we have made by environmental agencies and communities throughout Aotearoa
  • Well educated on how to maintain the health of the harbour

3.0 Working papers

It is anticipated that five or six technical working papers will support the preparation of the Mahurangi Action Plan. At this stage we consider that the following would benefit from technical investigations: Forestry, Water Quality, Landscape Management, Public Access, Use of the River and Harbour and Needs for Advocacy and Stewardship. The following details possible areas where more information is required.

3.1 Forestry

Information we need:

  • What is extent of forestry within catchment? When is it due for harvesting?
  • What is existing forestry practice and how does this relate to best practice (do we just need the game lifted, or more)?
  • What forestry trends will influence land use decision making for forestry (i.e. carbon credit legislation)?
  • What other vegetation is there of interest within the catchment?

3.2 Water quality

Information we need:

  • Trends in water quality—what are the key issues, key contaminants?
  • What should our target be for water quality—nature’s tipping point?
  • Ecosystems and biodiversity—what plantlife and wildlife exists currently? How can we best support these ecosystem/s?
  • Stormwater and wastewater management practices.

3.3 Landscape management

Information we need:

  • Understanding the Mahurangi landscape and how this relates to land use decision-making
  • What is the sensitivity of the landscape
  • What are the current threats to the landscape
  • Relationship between land use and water quality
  • How to improve the health of the Mahurangi landscape

3.4 Public access

Information we need:

  • Where are the current access points?—from land; from water?
  • How accessible are existing moorings? Should more be provided?
  • How extensive are walkways currently?
  • Where might new walkways be appropriate?
  • Where should access be restricted? E.g. for protection of cultural heritage/natural heritage

3.5 Use of the river and harbour

Information we need:

  • What is the current state of the river channel to the harbour?
  • What was this in the past? How recently?
  • What is the extent of economic activity within the harbour?

3.6 Needs for advocacy and stewardship

Information we need:

  • Changing governance threats
  • More information on cultural heritage

 

Christine Coste and Lisa Mein
Boffa Miskell

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