There is an increasing focus, nationally and locally, on preserving the quality of our natural environment, which is vulnerable to degradation as our population grows.
With Tauranga’s unprecedented growth, we as a community are increasingly aware of the importance of sustaining the health of our natural systems, and we are eager to protect them. Our environment is the foundation of our city, the pride of our community and a key asset that attracts people to Tauranga to live, do business and play.
It is the right time for us, council, tangata whenua, strategic partners and community, to review the state of our environment and create a city-wide environment strategy.
The strategy will aim to ensure that Tauranga grows in a way that protects and enhances our natural resources, demonstrating kaitiakitanga (guardianship) over our environment. By doing so, we strive to maintain and improve the quality of the natural environment, and therefore the quality of life for residents and visitors. Once developed, the strategy will provide guidance for Tauranga City Council’s work.
We will explore the following areas as core components of our environmental system: atmosphere and climate, air quality, freshwater, marine and coast, and land – including natural environments and resource management. Our environment strategy will also consider the linkages with other council functions, like the role of transport and urban form.
The environment strategy for Tauranga will aspire to:
- ensure a balance between a growing city and a healthy natural environment;
- define outcomes for our natural environment and put in place targets to achieve the outcomes;
- increase collaboration with the community and partners to achieve good environmental outcomes; and
- provide a shared vision of what council, our community and our partners want to achieve for Tauranga’s environment.
A whole-of-city effort
Businesses large and small, government (local, regional and central), NGOs, community organisations, each and every one of us as members of the community – we all play a role in protecting our environment into the future.
To reach our goals we will need to work together, and take responsibility for action, each at our own level.
Council’s role will vary depending on the issue. In some cases Council’s role will be to advocate to central government on an issue. In others, it may be tasked with supporting education on a topic, or provide funding to support another organisation achieve an environmental outcome. It yet other cases Council may be the one providing and managing the solution to an issue – a service or piece of infrastructure.
Where Council sits on this spectrum will be determined through the development of the strategy and associated action plans.
How we’ll get there – process and progress
To know what we want to achieve for our environment and how to achieve it, we first need to understand the state of our environment at this point in time, along with other people’s views on our natural environment, what they think it’s like, their concerns and aspirations for the future.
What we did
State of the environment – we commissioned an assessment of the state of the environment for Tauranga. The assessment presents the current state of the environment and identifies environmental pressures and their impacts looking at the five key areas of atmosphere, air, land, fresh water and marine.
Carbon footprint research – we commissioned a Community Carbon Footprint for Tauranga, to understand how much greenhouse gas emissions our city discharges into the atmosphere, and where these come from. It is the first step to understanding our emissions and what actions we could take to reduce our emissions as a city. The footprint followed a globally recognized methodology used by cities around the world: the Global Protocol for Community Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory.
Engagement – we collected insights from our community, partners and stakeholders on our natural environment, what they value, what their concerns are, what we should be doing better. We did this through (1) in-depth interviews with people and organisations that have expertise in and impact on the topics we are trying to address: partners like Tangata Whenua and the Regional Council, and other stakeholders such as organisations that are active in sustainability and influential in delivering environmental outcomes; and (2) an online survey that gathered insights on what people want for the future of Tauranga’s environment, with over 1,000 responses received.
What we found
Findings from scientific research and community engagement
Our community is deeply connected to our environment. People are concerned about water pollution, loss of biodiversity, the long-term effects of climate change and the pace of our city’s growth, with the risk of loss of urban greenspace.
Our community thinks we need to (1) invest in comprehensive public transport and facilities for people to be able to cycle and walk around the city instead of taking their cars; (2) prioritise resource recovery and waste minimisation; (3) sustainably manage our water quality and allocation; and (4) pursue greening development, urban forests and environmental restoration.
Read more community insights and findings from scientific research in the summary below.
Summary of findings from scientific research and community engagement (9mb pdf)
Common themes and insights for Tauranga’s new environment strategy (122kb pdf)
State of the Environment report
Read the full assessment of the state of Tauranga’s environment, environmental issues and trends in the areas of atmosphere, air, land, fresh water and marine in the detailed report below. In a nutshell:
- Atmosphere: when compared with the national average and other cities in New Zealand, Tauranga’s overall carbon emissions per capita are generally lower, while our per capita transport-related carbon emissions are somewhat higher.
- Air: our city’s air is by global standards good. Levels of SO2 (sulphur dioxide) and PM10 (particulate matter) are relatively low. Monitoring by the Regional Council is being increased, particularly around the port area, which will improve our understanding in the future.
- Land: there continues to be significant land use and land cover change reducing the overall area of the natural environment, with only 3% of land cover remaining in native vegetation, and only 0.7% of natural areas protected. Waste minimisation needs to be improved to reduce the current average of 630kg of waste per person per year.
- Fresh water: the science tells us that water quality is under increasing pressure and needs improvement in some areas. In the Regional Council NERMIN monitoring programme 2010-2015, 55-60% of samples from Tauranga rivers and streams were above the trigger values for nutrient concentrations and E.coli, and ecology status was fair to poor.
- Marine: marine swimming water quality rated good or very good at all sites tested in Tauranga Harbour under the Regional Council NERMIN monitoring programme. Heavy metal contaminants are very low and with good (if variable) nutrient state in the estuary, and relatively poor overall macroinvertebrate index, as an indicator of ecological health.
We intend for the environmental indicators used in this initial report to be reviewed and updated as regional and national indicators are developed e.g. through programmes such as the Te Awanui Harbour Programme and the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management Implementation.
State of the Environment report (3.8mb pdf)
Our city’s carbon footprint
As a city we generate 5.9 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions equivalent per person (Wellington: 5.7t/person in 2014/15). Most greenhouse gas emissions in Tauranga are related to road transport (60%), followed by our electricity consumption (14%) and solid waste disposal (8%). The Carbon Footprint will be used to develop the Environment Strategy and also to inform other strategies and plans e.g. transportation. It also provides us with a baseline to monitor change and the effectiveness of any actions we take as a city.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council is in the process of undertaking a carbon footprint for the region, which will help us to understand our contributions from a regional perspective.
Tauranga community carbon footprint highlights
Our environment strategy will provide a citywide strategic framework, which defines aspirational outcomes for the environment, priorities and targets.
We will be using the insights from Stage 1 to co-develop a strategy with partners, stakeholders and the community.
The strategy will need to:
- be evidence-based and include a case for change;
- work in conjunction with other strategic focuses such as transport and urban form;
- include SMART objectives, clear targets and KPIs to that we can monitor progress and effectiveness of the strategy and any related implementation plans;
- be agile and adaptable to respond to the pressing needs of our environment as they arise;
- be clear, engaging and concise. It will not outline full action plans
Once we have a final environment strategy we will think about what needs to be done to implement it and deliver on the aspirations of the strategy.
This may look like:
- acknowledging there are current existing action plans to support delivery
- updating existing action plans to better reflect the aspirations of the strategy; and/or
- developing brand new action plans
This stage is about delivering the actions in our plans by working collaboratively with others – partners, stakeholders and the community. During this stage we will need to continuously monitor the results of these actions and to review their effectiveness.
Last Reviewed: 24/05/2019