A few months ago I was privileged to be appointed to the Otago Conservation Board. Such appointments are made by the Minister of Conservation. The first duty of a member is to work to achieve the statutory interests of the board.
Members are not representatives for any cause or organisation. Board meetings are public, and organisations can ask to be heard at them.
There are 15 Boards in NZ and each one is independent of any other body, and have a statutory obligation to represent the public interest in DOC’s work, and conservation in general within their region by advising DOC and the New Zealand Conservation Authority on planning and strategic direction.
A board can be requested by DOC to advise on issues like biodiversity, the use of public land, and concessions (a business may apply to use such land for their operations).
One of the first ones I became involved with was commenting on some old historic dwelling in the Aramoana Spit near Dunedin. In this case the owners of the houses have applied for a concession for them to stay on Conservation Land. They were built maybe 80 years ago, predating not only DOC, but goodness what other land designation.
Some field trip notes and images
At the time of publishing here a submission has been sent to DOC of the Board’s recommendations, but at this point I don’t know what the outcome will be.