Sustainable Land Management Research Survey

Strategic Consultative Group on Sustainable Land Management Research

Chairman: Mr B Chamberlain, c/- Ministry of Research, Science and Technology  PO Box 5336  Wellington  New Zealand 
Telephone: (04) 472 6400  Fax: (04) 471 1284  Email: sustain@morst.govt.nz  October 19, 1994

To Whom It May Concern.....
                    An Agenda for Research on 
Sustainable Land Management in New Zealand

The Strategic Consultative Group on Sustainable Land Management Research, has been
established by the Hon Simon Upton, Minister of Research, Science and Technology, to develop
a strategy for research and science that will contribute to the achievement of sustainable land
management in New Zealand.

What is Sustainable Land Management?

    Sustainable land management recognises that good land management must extend to
     consideration of the various environmental, economic, and social linkages between people
     and the land.  It is wide-ranging in its impact, crossing central, regional and local
     government boundaries.  It has implications for farmland, mountain country, waterways,
     cities, and towns.  It involves social attitudes and individual behaviour.

    We have decided at this stage not to identify with any of the numerous, existing
     definitions of sustainable land management.  Rather we would prefer to wait for the
     responses to the following questions.    

Why develop a research agenda for Sustainable Land Management?

    It is important for all of us as New Zealanders to think about the future of our land and
     water resources.  Internationally, there is recognition of the need for long term strategic
     thinking about natural resources and their use.  Countries considering how best to
     manage their land recognise the need for science and research to provide input for
     informed decision-making, and are developing appropriate national research agendas to
     meet this need.

    In the past, research in New Zealand focused largely on the development and exploitation
     of our natural resources.  The range and intensity of demands on our land resources are
     increasing, as are the related demands on water, air resources and eco-systems in
     general.  Future decisions will involve a balancing of many different objectives.  The need
     for sound, informed decisions requires that we all contribute to assessing our future
     science and research needs.  Just as use of our limited natural resources requires difficult
     choices, so the efficient and effective use of our limited science and research resources
     requires careful thought to ensure we address the strategic long-term, as well as
     immediate, issues.

What are we doing?

    We are taking a broad look at what science and research is needed to support informed
     and sound decisions on the protection and sustainable management of our natural
     resources.  We are looking not only at agricultural land, but also at how different types
     of land use affect New Zealand's fresh water and estuarine ecosystems.  How best to
     manage the native forests; the potential impact of projected increased tourist activity; 
     Maori land values; and the increased impact and expectations of the urban population,
     are all aspects of land management that must be considered.  What we must also
     consider is who needs the research, who will use it, and who will fund it?

How does this survey link with other Government Strategies?

    The Government is adopting an integrated approach to sustainable land management. 
     Research on sustainable land management is one component of that approach.  The
     Government is also reviewing priorities for the Public Good Science Fund, the major
     source of funds for scientific research in New Zealand.  We have been asked to
     contribute to the development of those priorities from our view of sustainable land

How can you contribute?

    We are keen to hear about sustainable land management issues as they relate to you or
     your organisation.  We would like your views on the critical issues facing New Zealand
     land resources.  This will help us identify a strategy to address the needs for sustainable
     land management research and the emerging challenges of the next century.  We need
     to know what the crucial land management problems are here and now.  What research
     is needed?   How should the research best be done?  How can we ensure that research
     findings are better used?
    To help you to structure and target your comments, we have prepared a series of
     questions which highlight the topics we would like you to consider.  Of course you do
     not need to limit your response to these questions.  We are happy to receive additional
     written notes on any other matters you may wish to raise with us, whether as an
     individual or as part of a group.  

    Next year we plan to host a workshop to consider some of the responses to this survey. 
     We also intend to prepare a discussion paper and meet with interested parties to consider
     the document.

    We need to receive your responses and comments no later than November 
30, 1994.      Either post or fax your responses to Gerald Rys at the 
Ministry of Research, Science and     Technology, PO Box 5336, Wellington (
Phone 04-472 6400, Fax 04-471 1284) or     contact us on our electronic mail 
address, sustain@morst.govt.nz 

We look forward to receiving your contribution. 

Basil Chamberlain

PS:  To ensure the widest coverage, we would appreciate if you would circulate copies of this
     paper to any of your colleagues or other groups who, for whatever reason, did not
     receive a copy.Key Issues

We would like to have your comments on all or any of the following issues.  Please use the
space provided or, if you wish to address some issues more fully, append a separate sheet.  You
may address any other issues you consider relevant.  It may help you to first read through all
the questions.

Issue 1   There is a bewildering array of topics and issues that can be identified under
          sustainable land management.  To provide direction and develop a strategy, we
          would like to try and identify boundaries and categories for sustainable land
          management from a research and science perspective.  

1.1       Describe the range of current research that contributes to sustainable land
          management?  How wide ranging should it be?

1.2       How would you identify boundaries, and develop categories, for research on
          sustainable land management?  Are there any common themes that run through
          all research on sustainable land management?

Issue 2   The approaches and frameworks needed for research on sustainable land

          We are not merely interested in identifying a range of research areas eg, soils,
          water and air quality, bio-diversity etc., we also want to know about your ideas
          and concerns regarding the way science is done, and how it can better contribute
          to the goal of sustainability.  For example, you may wish to consider timeframe
          issues, the place of systems, multi-disciplinary science, the balance between
          reductionist and holistic approaches to research, cultural dimensions, etc.  

2.1       Research can be designed in various ways.  How would you design research on
          sustainable land management, and how is your approach the same as, or different
          from, currently emphasised research approaches or topics?

Issue 3   Identifying current gaps and overlaps in, and future needs for research on
          sustainable land management. 

3.1       What current gaps do you see in research on sustainable land management (say
          five examples)?  Justify and prioritise if you wish.

3.2       What current overlaps do you see in research on sustainable land management,
          (say five examples) and why?  Justify and prioritise if you wish.

3.3       What do you consider the most important research needs and priorities (say five
          examples) for sustainable land management to the year 2010?

Issue 4   Limits on the availability of skilled scientists and funding mean that priorities must
          be established for research on sustainable land management.

4.1       What criteria should be considered when establishing priorities for research on
          sustainable land management?

4.2       What process should be used to set priorities for research on sustainable land
          management?  Who should set these research priorities?
Issue 5   Maximising the use of, and benefit from, research on sustainable land
          management and identifying external issues that may influence this research. 

5.1       A common criticism encountered by the Committee is that findings from a lot of
          good research are not being used.  Do you think this is true?  If so, can you give
          some examples?

5.2       Do you have any suggestions as to how to optimise the transfer and use of results
          of research on sustainable land management?

Issue 6   Funding for research on sustainable land management has to be prioritised against
          the vast range of other science areas to which such funding can be put.  It is
          important to get some idea of how much of the total amount of money available
          for research in New Zealand should be spent on sustainable land management
          (both public and private sector).  The appropriate balance of funding from the
          different funding sources also needs to be considered.  

          One estimate of current research expenditure that, directly or indirectly,
          contributes to sustainable land management suggests a total expenditure of $119
          million dollars for the public and private sector, representing 18% of New
          Zealand's total research and development effort.  Central Government is by far the
          largest contributor spending 65%, Universities spend 23%, the private sector
          spends an estimated 9%, and Regional Government spends 3%.

6.1       What proportion of New Zealand's current total research funding (public and
          private) should be spent on research on sustainable land management, and why? 

6.2       What do you think should be the balance of funding for research on sustainable
          land management?  Possible funders include: central, regional and local
          government; universities; and the private sector - industry, farmers, etc. 

6.3       What are the impediments, including criteria for expenditure of public good science
          funds, that may limit the achievement of this balance between sectors?  

Issue 7   Coordination of Research on Sustainable Land Management.

          Currently National Science Strategy Committees are used to coordinate science
          priorities for two key issues: Climate Change and Possum/Bovine Tb Control. 
          They are national committees of 10 to 15 people representing largely research
          funders, but also science providers, with an independent chair, all appointed by
          the Minister of Research, Science and Technology.  They meet 4 to 6 times a
          year, and  report annually to the Minister and at other times as required.  They
          carry out their task by running workshops, producing publications on relevant
          topics, and liaising with research funders, providers and users.  Funding for
          committee activities is currently met from subscriptions by member organisations,
          and by sponsorship for specific activities.
          We have an opportunity to suggest the best way of coordinating research on
          sustainable land management.  We would be interested in your thoughts on a
          suitable approach. 

7.1       How do you think research on sustainable land management should be

7.2       How do you see yourself interacting with the coordination mechanism that you
          have suggested?

Issue 8   New Zealand's interaction with the international science community in the area of
          research on sustainable land management

          Increasingly the agenda for environmental and resource management issues is
          being set in international fora to which New Zealand is a party: for example the
          Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Biodiversity Convention. 
          Coupled with this is a substantial increase in the amount of research being
          conducted internationally in these areas.  National and international organisations
          are increasingly developing international research programmes with components
          being carried out in a number of different countries.

8.1       How international are New Zealand's sustainable land management problems? 
          How much of the research can only be done in New Zealand?

8.2       How do you think New Zealand can both link in with, contribute to and make best
          use of, the research on sustainable land management being generated overseas?

9         Other Issues.  

9.1       Are there any other comments you would like to make?

10   Respondent Information

     We respect individuals' personal information and take our privacy responsibilities
     seriously.  However, to assist us in our analysis of responses we may wish to contact
     you for further information, and/or publish your name and affiliation together with your
     information/submission.  We would appreciate you completing the following details so
     that we know if there are any restrictions applying to our use of your response.  Please
     note that unless you specify your information is confidential we are obliged to make it
     available under the Official Information Act.  If you wish, your reply can be anonymous.

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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
Gerald Rys
Assistant Chief Scientist
Ministry of Research, Science and Technology
P O Box 5336                        Ph  (04) 4726400
Wellington                          Fax (04) 4711284
New Zealand                         email rysg@morst.govt.nz

" A perfection of means and a confusion of aims
seems to be our main problem"  Albert Einstein.