What conservation boards do and what is expected of them.

What is a conservation board?

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 15 conservation boards, each with a defined geographical area and up to 12 members.

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.

Code of Practice

The Code of Practice provides a framework for the successful operation of Conservation Boards. It includes: roles of the Boards; responsibilities of Board members; and key legislative functions.

Download the Code of Practice for Conservation Boards (PDF, 497K)

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.

More information

Contact the board support officer for your local conservation board.

Download information on this page in factsheets
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