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dc.contributor.advisorMorgan, Richard K.
dc.contributor.authorBecher, Suzanne Anette
dc.identifier.citationBecher, S. A. (2015). Cumulative Effects and New Zealand’s Resource Management Act: An Institutional Analysis (Thesis, Master of Planning). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractCumulative effects (CE) on the environment are among the most difficult effects to manage in an anticipatory manner, because of the small size of individual effects, the diverse, and dispersed character of sources, and the potential for rapid escalation to crisis stage due to non-linear interactions. Adopting an institutional perspective, this research conducted a document analysis to evaluate the potential of New Zealand’s resource management institutional arrangements for anticipatory CE management (CEM). A complementary case-study of management of CEs from on-site effluent treatment (OSET) in Clyde (Central Otago, NZ) assessed whether current implementation of the RMA realises that potential. New Zealand’s RMA uses an effects-based based approach to manage impacts from land use activities on common resources. This is complemented by the “polluter pays” principle, which seeks to predict the significance of an effect, and to avoid, mitigate or remedy environmental damage at the source. This research argues that there are two types of CEs: One has linear properties that accumulate in an additive manner. The second has non-linear, complex systems properties that preclude prediction of effects and definitive identification of a source. This information failure means these CEs cannot be managed by the RMA’s polluter pays approach, but require top-down intervention. This thesis posits that in addition to the predict-and-control philosophy of the RMA an adaptive management approach is required to manage non-linear CEs affecting common resources. This is principally enabled by the RMA, however, two institutional barriers to this approach to anticipatory CEM were identified: grandfathering and the inability to fund top-down interventions under the RMA. Analysis of statutory documents showed that incomplete implementation of RMA provisions results in failure to realise its potential, presenting further challenges to CEM. The case-study revealed that in the absence of strategic guidance at the national and regional levels, management of effects from OSET in Clyde is driven tactically through the consenting process by collaborating stakeholders. This research also identified “soft” barriers to CE management that are exacerbated by an unwillingness to accept fiscal responsibility for CEM initiatives by local authorities. Institutional arrangements for CEM of OSET in Clyde, and potentially more generally, thus fall significantly short of ideal requirements and currently hamper successful anticipatory CEM.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subjectCumulative effects
dc.subjectResource management
dc.subjectInstitutional Arrangement Design
dc.subjectOn-site effluent treatment
dc.subjectAdaptive management
dc.subjectEcological economics
dc.subjectEvaluative research
dc.subjectSystems thinking
dc.subjectCumulative effects management
dc.titleCumulative Effects and New Zealand’s Resource Management Act: An Institutional Analysis
dc.language.rfc3066en of Planning of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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