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Natural Character

 The natural qualities of our coastal environment are called natural character. We need to balance our activities in coastal areas with the protection of natural character.

What is natural character?

The natural character of an area is the natural qualities and features of that area (as opposed to artificial features such as roads and buildings).

‘Natural character’ describes:

  • natural features – including landforms, plants and animals
  • physical and biological processes – including sediment movement, waves, currents, changes in the plants and animals
  • values – spiritual, cultural, scientific and visual.

Natural character covers the range from undeveloped, mainly natural, environments (which have high natural character) to highly developed and built environments (little natural character).

The importance of natural character

Legislation and regional and district plans highlight the importance of protecting the coast’s natural character. This emphasis on protection shows:

  • how important natural character is to coastal ecosystems and to human use and enjoyment of coastal areas
  • the widespread loss of natural character that has already occurred and the pressures on what remains.

We need to balance our activities in coastal areas with the protection of natural character. Otherwise, we could lose more of our natural coastal values.

There is also potential for us to restore and improve the natural character of developed coastal areas, for example, through pest control and replanting native coastal plants.

Find out more

Check out the information in our Regional Coastal Plan on the preservation of natural character.

You can also read guidance from the Department of Conservation on the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement (2010) Policy 13: Preservation of natural character