Benefits to the natural environment is a factor for assessing the benefit of overseas investments in sensitive land under section 17(1)(b) of the Overseas Investment Amendment Act 2021.
This factor may encompass any type of benefit to New Zealand’s natural environment. Applicants should identify the specific type of environmental benefit they are claiming. The benefit must be additional to any that already exists without the investment.
Examples of how the investment could benefit the natural environment include:
- protection of indigenous flora and fauna
- improved water quality
- erosion control.
Note that if the land includes a site of national significance, or if an application raises Treaty of Waitangi issues, a national interest assessment may be required.
The natural environment
The natural environment includes land, water, air, soil, all forms of plants and animals (whether native to New Zealand or introduced), and ecosystems and their constituent parts.
Indigenous flora and fauna
Indigenous flora refers to trees native to New Zealand. Indigenous fauna refers to wildlife native to New Zealand, such as native birds and fish.
Benefits to the natural environment
Examples of measures that may benefit the natural environment include:
- pest control, fencing, fire control, erosion control, or riparian planting
- covenants over the land.
Generally, the benefit associated with enduring mechanisms such as conservation covenants are given greater weight than temporary measures.
A commitment to implement specific mechanisms will be given greater weight than an agreement to consult with a relevant entity.
Consultation with the Department of Conservation
Where the relevant land contains significant existing areas of indigenous flora, habitats of indigenous or protected fauna, or other significant natural features such as rivers, lakes or wetlands, applicants are encouraged to contact the Department of Conservation before making an application. This will help to determine the relevance of this factor and identify the most appropriate ways to protect or enhance the natural environment.
Making a claim
To claim a benefit to the natural environment, an applicant should provide the following information:
- Description: The nature of the benefits to the natural environment the applicant claims will result from the investment. Include information about the natural features on the land that the benefit relates to (for example, the indigenous flora or fauna present).
- Current state: Details of any existing measures in place to protect or enhance the natural environment.
- Method: The new or enhanced measures the applicant intends to take and how they will be implemented.
- Benefit to New Zealand: How the proposed measures will benefit New Zealand. Include information about the significance of the natural features being preserved or enhanced, the likely impact of the proposed measures on the environment and any related benefits.
- Expenditure: The capital expenditure (if any) required.
- Timeframe: When the benefits are likely to occur.
- Uncertainties: Anything that may prevent the benefit from occurring (for example, consents and approvals).
Conditions of consent
An applicant’s claims under this factor are generally the subject of an associated condition of consent and post-consent monitoring by the Overseas Investment Office.
Where the Overseas Investment Office considers that this factor is relevant to an application, we may consult the Department of Conservation. The outcome of this consultation will be discussed with the applicant where relevant, including any potential conditions of consent.