Institute News

Conference 2003
Greening the City:
Bringing Biodiversity Back
into the Urban Environment


Waitakere's Green Network, a 10 Year Anniversary - the Challenges and Successes of Implementing a Biodiversity Programme Begun in 1993

Chris Ferkins (Waitakere City Council)

In 1993 Waitakere City Council joined a group of some 2000 cities world-wide that had taken the path to becoming sustainable cities - a direction that takes into account the impacts our decisions today have on future generations and on the environment the city inhabits; a direction that was recommended to communities world-wide by a world conference held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The conference was called The Earth Summit and the recommendations were contained in a signed agreement called Agenda 21. Thus Waitakere declared its aim to become the first city in New Zealand to take on board these recommendations.

The ecocity was born and a concept called the Green Network was developed.

Now it is 2003, and Waitakere is celebrating a decade of work on furthering the Green Network and the ecocity. It will be my privilege to explain some key elements of the progress made.

Interestingly, the Green Network is not just a biodiversity strategy, but a 'healthy habitat for a city' strategy. The key element besides biodiversity is ecosystem services. Both these overlapping but complimentary elements have capacity to impact on the healthy functioning of biological and physical processes, and their enhancement can benefit all (human and non-human) inhabitants of the city with improved environmental quality.

Ideas! The ecocity gave direction but where do we start? And how can the Green Network (including biodiversity and ecosystem services objectives) be managed to serve economic, cultural and social outcomes as well as environmental ones?

This presentation will focus on a few key examples:

  • People can't be ignored. We all know what it is like when we are asking people to see or do things differently, but try making a significant difference without addressing that - or without engaging the massive potential of a supportive community. Many people support environmental objectives, but acknowledge and incorporate the economic, cultural and social objectives of community members and you have a formula for broad engagement. I will look at non-regulatory programmes of support for community involvement including private landowners;
  • Regulation: one key inclusion in the District Plan was the creation of a riparian zone that set a specific set of rules for the land beside streams - and in so doing gives a very definite message about the values of that land;
  • Asset management - Waitakere has 1500km of roadsides within Road Reserves including that in the Waitakere Ranges. Management changes have seen massive improvement in the asset, its ecological health and of the surrounding natural areas, and expected future impacts on the cost of road maintenance;
  • Stormwater and ecological restoration in the heart of the City - Project Twin Streams looks to improve water quality, improve ecological function and health, and create wildlife corridors through the heart of urban Waitakere.

Conference sponsored by:

British Council NZ
The Community Trust
Landcare Research

Follow this link to view other organisations supportive of the conference

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Last updated: October 14, 2003