Chairman's Foreword

Welcome to the Northland Regional Council's second State of the Environment Report. This report builds on the findings of the first State of the Environment Report for Northland, published in 2002 and provides updated and new information on the health of our region's natural and physical resources. It helps us to review what is happening in our environment, why it is happening and what we are doing about it. This latest report - as with its predecessor - is an "accountability card" against which future changes can be measured.

The report shows that progress has been made in some areas due to often quite significant effort and increased awareness of environmental issues but overall the region's environment is in a similar state to that of five years ago. There are some major issues that the region still faces, particularly:

· The poor water quality of many rivers and lakes in rural and urban areas;

· The on-going rapid development of our coastal environments and the resulting sewage-disposal problems;

· Risk of coastal, flooding and erosion hazards for inappropriately located development;

· Threats to the region's biodiversity from animal pests, weeds and changing land use patterns;

· High or potential over-allocation of some water resources;

· Sustainable land use management and soil conservation.

The Regional Council recognises that the region needs timely and accurate information about the environment and it has put in place programmes to monitor the state of the environment and to detect changes. The Council's monitoring programmes will give information on effectiveness of the policies of the Council's various planning documents and will provide vital direction as the Council moves to consider the implementation of more ‘effects based' environmental management regimes.

Positive change in our environment will not happen on its own - all Northlanders need to be aware of the issues and take ownership and responsibility for our environment. This report gives Northlanders a very clear focus of the areas we need to be investing time, effort and resources.

This report contains valuable information that the Council will use in its environmental decision-making processes such as the upcoming Long Term Council Community Plan review process. The Regional Council will continue to work with a variety of agencies, including government departments, the three district councils, business, iwi and local communities to achieve positive changes in the state of Northland's environment.

Mark Farnsworth