Draft Significant Resource Management Issues
(RPS Review, February 2020 Consultation)
Natural hazards pose a risk to many Otago communities.
An earthquake on the Alpine Fault would cause potentially catastrophic effects for the entire region. There are particular areas in Otago which are prone to flooding. A major hazard event could isolate Otago, or parts of it, for an extended time.
Climate change is likely to damage our economy and environment.
In Central Otago, we’re likely to see more varied rainfall, leading to increased flooding and less water reliability. This will be compounded by stronger winds, increased temperatures and longer dry periods, which may affect the number and types of crops and animals that the land can sustain. On the coast, low lying areas like South Dunedin are at risk of inundation from rising sea levels. This will also exacerbate coastal erosion, which could damage coastal infrastructure (including roads) and expose old waste dumps (e.g. at Middle Beach). Climate change will also affect native animals and plants, compounding the effects of pests and stresses from human use. Some climate change threats are unpredictable
Pest species pose an ongoing threat to indigenous biodiversity, economic activities and landscapes.
Pest species can be found throughout Otago, from alpine regions to marine environments. Rabbits are changing Central Otago’s landscape, eroding soils and affecting agriculture. Wilding pines threaten high country and tussock grassland, changing the landscape and impacting on our recreational, hydrological and conservation values. Didymo, Lake snow and Lagarosiphon affect our lakes and rivers. Native aquatic plants are displaced, impacting ecosystem health and recreation activities.
Urban growth affects productive land, treasured natural assets, infrastructure and community wellbeing.
Natural resources lost to urban growth are gone forever. Frequently, places that are attractive for growth also have landscape and productive values. The growth of Wanaka and Queenstown is changing the natural landscape. Mosgiel’s growth is occurring on some of Otago’s most highly productive soil, which takes away the option for agriculture. Towns like Arrowtown, Clyde and Milton experience poor air quality in winter, while experiencing pressure to grow.
Water demand exceeds capacity in some places
In water-short catchments, water availability cannot meet competing demands from agriculture, hydro-electric generation, the community and the environment. Many of these catchments are also experiencing urban growth, increasing demand on water supply. Some catchments are complex, making it challenging to identify or mitigate these effects.
Otago’s coast is a rich natural, cultural and economic resource that is under threat from a range of terrestrial and marine activities.
Otago’s coast provides habitat for rare species (including toroa and hoiho), outstanding landscapes, a rich food source, recreation, industry and potential for further economic use (aquaculture). Threats to it are not understood and not always well managed. From the sedimentation effects of inland development to waste disposal, human activity puts stress on the marine and coastal environment. Some of those activities, like Port Otago and tourism, are vital to our economic wellbeing.
Lakes Wanaka, Wakatipu, Hawea and Dunstan attract visitors and new residents, putting pressure on their unique environment.
The beauty, opportunity and climate of these lakes attract visitors and residents from the around Otago, New Zealand, and the world. This influx brings economic opportunity, but the activities and services created to support it can degrade the environment that underpins the area’s attractiveness.
Economic and domestic activities use natural resources, but do not always properly account for the environmental stresses and future effects they cause.
Sedimentation from development and forestry flows into streams and builds up in the coastal environment, smothering kelp forests and affecting rich underwater habitats. Water abstraction and waste water and stormwater discharges risk degrading the natural environment, cultural and amenity values, and recreation. Mining and agriculture support employment and economic wellbeing but can also change landscapes and habitats. Otago’s port moves freight to and from Otago and Southland, but operates alongside sensitive environments, including the Aramoana saltmarsh. Tourism, which relies on the environment, can also add to degradation.
The environmental costs of our activities are stacking up and may soon reach a tipping point.
How and where we currently live is likely to change significantly in coming years. To respond to all the issues identified in this RPS, we will need to consider changes to how we travel, the industries our economy relies on, and how we provide for good lives while protecting our natural environment.