From our Chair: 2021 - the year in review

Chair Jenny Hughey

Chair Jenny Hughey

It’s been quite a year – one that has come with its share of challenges and uncertainty.

This was certainly the case for us at Environment Canterbury. Yet, despite the complexities and hurdles of the year, I’m proud of what we have managed to achieve.

The May floods

Looking back on 2021, it’s fair to say that the Canterbury-wide flooding was probably the defining event of the year – particularly for those in the rural community.

The flood management network held up remarkably well under the extreme weather. Regrettably, however, many in the community still had their lives and livelihoods disrupted.

Improving public transport

Getting Cantabrians out of their cars and onto the bus is a big priority for us, and 2021 was no exception. To help achieve this, we made great progress in continuing to build a resilient public transport network.

This included the introduction of low-emission vehicles, new services, and a real-time information system to help users track services and plan their journey.

A boost for pest control

Despite the negative impacts of COVID-19, central government’s COVID-19 relief funding presented a great opportunity to accelerate our wilding pine and wallaby pest control work, as well as fast-track some river projects.

Finalising the Long-Term Plan

We adopted the Long-Term Plan 2021-31 – our roadmap and commitment to the community on the environmental work to be undertaken across the region over the next decade.

One such commitment is the development of a climate change action plan. Another is to continue to pursue programmes that hasten the protection and regeneration of the natural environment.

Achieving this involves working closely with partners, stakeholders and the community, and just one example of this is the new Waitaha Action to Impact Fund – a contestable fund that supports community organisations with their environmental initiatives.

The Long-Term Plan also includes a commitment to nature-based youth education and engagement. This is important for cultivating a mindset that ensures continuity across the generations for recognising and addressing environmental issues.

Understanding climate change for Canterbury

Of course, climate change will remain a pressing topic for future generations, which is why, working with the city and district councils, we launched the It’s time, Canterbury climate change campaign.

The campaign page provides resources showing what the region can expect, how we are responding, and what the community can do.

New rules for on the farm

Farmers and growers have had a lot to think about this year, not least due to the continued rollout of central government’s Essential Freshwater package. We’ve provided resources and advice to help them interpret just what the package will mean for them and their business.

In addition, we finalised new rules in the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan to improve cultural, environmental, commercial and recreational outcomes across the region.

Final thoughts

There is so much more I could mention on top of the business-as-usual activity that we have done or contributed to help manage Canterbury’s environment.

The work we do here can be complex. Weighing up what needs to be done with consideration to social, economic and cultural needs, and within budget and policy constraints can be incredibly tough.

I would like to thank all of you for your trust and contribution to helping us to manage the environment in this special region of New Zealand.

I wish you all a happy Christmas and New Year, and a safe summer holiday. See you in 2022.