Media release

New team at ORC sees increased on-the-ground delivery focus

Tuesday 27 July 2021

The newly formed Environmental Implementation team combines community-facing biodiversity, biosecurity and freshwater focused staff into one team.

Environmental Implementation Manager Andrea Howard (formerly the Otago Regional Council Biosecurity and Rural Liaison Manager) said the new team would focus on making measurable progress on environmental issues in both urban and rural catchments.

Implementation would take a variety of forms, she said: “We will be increasing our partnerships with mana whenua, and with local communities and landowners, as well as directly delivering environmental improvement through ‘boots on the ground’.

“The team will have an increased number of community-facing roles, with staff working with individuals and communities to proactively resolve contentious issues and ‘sticky’ environmental problems. This will be achieved in a number of ways, including providing technical advice, encouraging effective land use practices, and supporting community-led environmental efforts. We’ll also be undertaking localised integrated action planning and developing and implementing targeted plans to facilitate environmental restoration.”

Work to date on freshwater restoration had been focused on firming up specific management plans in which ORC will lead, and in some cases fund, direct work to improve water quality and wider biodiversity in areas including Lake Hayes and Tomahawk Lagoon.

“The team will work to ensure Otago is best positioned to leverage funding opportunities from national programmes, such as the Wallaby Programme and the Wilding Conifer Programme,” Ms Howard said.

Education, including promotion around sustainable land management practices and driving behaviour change, would also be part of the team’s focus.

Biosecurity work is set to increase, with a greater focus on monitoring and surveillance of pest species, collaboration with others, and a stronger focus on regulatory enforcement in this area.

In a departure from the way ORC’s work has traditionally been structured, the Environmental Implementation team’s efforts will be organised around local geography - rather than by subject. This is expected to further the establishment of strong community relationships and allow staff and communities to have an in-depth understanding of environmental issues and solutions within ecosystems at a local level. 

Measuring the success of environmental interventions was critical and would be an important part of the work of the new team, Ms Howard said.

“Our communities want to see more of ORC making a tangible difference in their immediate environment, and this new team is set up to do just that.”