The focus of this newsletter is landscape assessment, which has been discussed in great depth within the landscape architecture profession over the past year. Like with any robust process, it is important for the profession to continue refining its methodology, language and definitions to ensure landscape assessment appropriately reflects the ever evolving landscapes it is used to assess. We hope that this article will assist in adding to the momentum of further developing landscape assessment.
A diverse range of authors from throughout Aotearoa-New Zealand were asked to share their reflections on landscape assessment from their experience. Each of the authors were asked to cover a topic within this theme, using the overall ‘think piece’ written by Clive Anstey as a prompt for their article. The topics covered in this newsletter include:
Outstanding natural landscapes/ features and provisions in Regional Policy Statements.
Environment Court concerns with landscape assessment.
The Environment Court and landscape assessment.
Natural character assessments and provisions in a coastal environment.
The assessment and management of amenity values.
Community engagement: defining ‘community’ and informing consultation processes.
Language and definitions.
Clive Anstey begins the newsletter with his overview piece which explains the connection of landscape assessment with statutory provisions, including the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement. He also discusses the importance of landscape assessment and some of its history, including the recent workshops which have been held to review the landscape assessment guidelines.
John Hudson discusses outstanding natural landscapes and features in relation to the One Plan (the regional planning document for Horizons – Manawatu Whanganui) versus Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to illustrate the vast differences between some of New Zealand’s Regional Policy Statements. Begging the question, why the inconsistency?
Martin Williams follows with a focus on Environment Court concerns with landscape assessment and brings a perspective from outside the landscape architecture profession, giving a legal perspective on the issue. Martin discusses the need for a national policy statement in relation to landscape assessment and provides encouragement to those taking leadership in this respect.
Marion Read draws on her extensive research on the Environment Court and landscape assessment, and as part of her discussion she examines the need to amend certain sections within the RMA. Her argument demonstrates the importance to protect not only outstanding landscapes but also those which are modified but still highly valued.
Rhys Girvan and Emma McRae delve into natural character assessments in the coastal environment and help define the difference between natural character and landscape evaluation. They also consider how to define the coastal environment, scale of assessment, and outstanding natural character.
Stephen Brown explores the assessment and management of amenity, the line between amenity and landscape, and explains what is encompassed by the term. He deliberates on the specificity of amenity values from site to site and summarises the importance of amenity in the everyday lives of communities.
Shannon Bray provides a telling story on community engagement and provides insight into his experience with the consultation process. He discusses the importance of involving the community in the landscape assessment process and explains the benefits of listening to community members.
Dennis Scott discusses the difficult topic of language and definitions. He argues the need for a multidisciplinary approach so that landscape becomes a shared objective and asserts it is therefore imperative that there is a common understanding of the term ‘landscape’.
Chantal Whitby is Landscape Architect who holds a Master of Science (with Distinction) in Environmental Management. She works for Hudson Associates Landscape Architects and works on range of landscape assessment projects, including those in the coastal environment. She lives near Dunedin with her partner on a regionally significant wetland, which continually refuels her passion for New Zealand’s unique environment.