Ecological Natural Character Assessment

Natural character is assessed in terms of both ecology (the viable functioning of natural processes) and experience (the attributes of “naturalness”) (Environment Waikato, 2000).

Members of the Focus group developed methodology to identify and assess ecological natural character (Graeme et al, 2010) for the Thames Coromandel District Council.  The identified areas of 'high' ecological natural character complement the areas of 'high' and 'outstanding' landscapes for the District.  Historically the assessment of natural character by territorial authorities had been limited to the experiential aspect, while the ecological aspect had been largely ignored.  Therefore the methodology described in Graeme et al (2010) is the first to assess and map ecological natural character in New Zealand.  The ecological focus is on the intactness, functioning and resilience of ecosystems and the levels of disturbance to the natural features and processes.