Navigating the implementation impasse - enabling interagency collaboration on cumulative effects (innovation fund)

Cumulative effects from natural events and human activities is one of the most urgent and complex problems facing our coastal and marine ecosystems

Managing the cumulative effects from natural events and human activities is one of the most urgent and complex problems facing our coastal and marine ecosystems. The many agencies responsible for managing these spaces are working together to address this challenge.

Project leader: Kate Davies, NIWA

Collaborating to tackle cumulative effects

This project will produce guidelines to monitor and manage cumulative effects (CE) across New Zealand.

This will be a major step forward, because the way we manage CE in Aotearoa’s marine environments is extremely fragmented and inconsistent. This interagency partnership has a ki uta ki tai (mountains to the sea) strategy, which is the only feasible way to properly tackle CE.

Better CE management is essential to:

  • Avoid declines in ecosystem health and productivity
  • Set appropriate targets and limits for use and extraction of marine resources
  • Mitigate the risk of environmental, economic or social decline

New Zealand’s coastal and marine management is covered by 25 statutes governing 14 agencies and operating across 7 geographic jurisdictions. Each deals with CE differently – but human and natural stressors cross these political, jurisdictional, cultural and geographic boundaries so a consistent approach is needed.

The research team represents a diverse range of interests involved in managing CE, including central and regional government, Treaty partners, industry, and research.

So far, the team has:

  • Established a shared vision, aspirations and goals
  • Taken stock of the current state of CE management
  • Identified areas for improvement – these include the need for a shared definition of CE, coordinated monitoring and reporting, understanding of thresholds and tipping points, the capacity to make decisions in the face of uncertainty, and a common understanding of rights and responsibilities in relation to CE management and governance

This research builds on the work of Navigating marine social-ecological systems.

Project partners

Aquaculture NZ, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Department of Conservation, Environmental Protection Authority, HH & R Mikaere Ltd, Marlborough District Council, Ministry for the Environment, Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NIWA, Te Ohu Kaimoana, Tūtaiao, University of Auckland, and Victoria University.

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