Get general information about conservation boards and their work.

Conservation board review

The Minister of Conservation, Dr Nick Smith, appointed a ministerial advisory committee in September 2013 to review the role and function of conservation boards.

Read the final report of the committee.

What is a conservation board?

A conservation board provides for interaction between a community and the Department of Conservation. The Department manages almost one-third of New Zealand's land area - including national parks, reserves, forest parks and other protected areas - for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

Conservation boards are independent bodies, established by statute. Each board represents the public interest in the work of the Department, and conservation in general, within the area of jurisdiction of that board. They are advisors to the Department and the New Zealand Conservation Authority.

There are 14 conservation boards, each with a defined geographical area and up to 12 members.

View a factsheet about the role of conservation boards (PDF, 452K)

What do conservation boards do?

The functions of boards are set out in Section 6M of the Conservation Act 1987 and in the National Parks and Reserves Acts. The boards focus on planning and strategic direction, not the day-to-day operational details of the Department's work.

A major responsibility for each board is overseeing the Conservation Management Strategy for its region. A Conservation Management Strategy is a 10-year plan for managing and protecting the natural and historic features and wildlife of the region. Conservation Management Strategies are prepared by a board and the Department in consultation with interested parties. Once a Conservation Management Strategy has been approved by the New Zealand Conservation Authority, boards advise on their implementation.

Other board work can include:

  • developing and reviewing national park and other management plans for lands administered by the Department;
  • advising on proposals for marine reserves;
  • considering the impact of concessions for tourism and other activities on conservation land;
  • looking at the range of recreational opportunities in the region;
  • advising on proposals to change the protective status or classification of areas of national or international importance.

Who is on a conservation board?

The majority of members are appointed as a result of a public nomination process.
In the appointments process a diversity of experience and background and a spread across the main geographical and ecological zones within a board’s area are sought.
Members may have knowledge of nature conservation, natural earth and marine sciences, cultural heritage, recreation, tourism, the local community and Maori perspectives.

On any one board there may be teachers, farmers, fishers, scientists, builders, tourist operators, home makers and retired persons.

What is expected of a board member?

An interest in conservation is the first requirement. Time and energy run a close second. Before you agree to be nominated to become a member you need to be fully aware of the demands and responsibilities of the role. Job satisfaction is greatest when all members are able to participate fully and work is shared.

If you can, talk to a former or present board member about the commitment required. Your nearest Department of Conservation office can put you in touch with a local member if you do not know one personally.

Most boards meet four-five times a year; occasionally more often. Meetings take a full day. When they are linked with a field trip or inspection visit they can take two or even three days, sometimes over a weekend. There will also be committee meetings, time required for researching issues and working on reports or submissions, preparation time spent reading briefing material before meetings, and time for liaison and public consultation.

Members are appointed as individuals for their experience, expertise and links with the local community. Members are not representatives for any particular cause or organisation. (Board meetings are public meetings and organisations can attend and ask to be heard at such meetings.) The first duty of a member is to work to achieve the statutory interests of the board. The abilities to think laterally, listen, analyse issues, participate in discussions and form a view will help members work together as a team to reach decisions by consensus.

The boards and the Department benefit from the different perspectives which are articulated by members as result of their collective personal and professional understanding.

View a factsheet about the expectations of conservation board members (PDF, 353K)

Do members get paid?

Board members are paid a daily fee of $180 for meetings and other approved activities based on an 8 hour commitment. The fee for a board chairperson is $240.  The daily fee applies to all work, including that performed outside of meetings (e.g. preparation, representing the board at other forums, or administrative work) that is required for the body to carry out its role. Reasonable expenses for travel, accommodation and meals approved in advance by the board will be reimbursed.

View a factsheet about fees and expenses (PDF, 359K)

What is the term of appointment?

The Minister of Conservation appoints members to conservation boards in accordance with section 6P of the Conservation Act 1987. Terms of appointment are generally for three years. Members may be nominated for a second term. Some members get appointed for a lesser term, especially where they are replacing a member who has resigned.

For further information

If you want further information about a specific conservation board you should contact the conservation board servicing officer in the relevant regional office of the Department of Conservation.


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Contacts

To find out how you can get involved in conservation activities near you, contact your local DOC office