Vahry­ous thoughts


Change is con­stant and no more so than within or­gan­i­sa­tions like the De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion ( DOC). Dur­ing Fe­bru­ary, ad­vice was re­ceived from DOC that all un­signed partnership agree­ments would need to be re-drafted in a new for­mat with the aim of stan­dard­i­s­a­tion. The word ‘partnership’ has gone from the ti­tle too; with doc­u­ments now sim­ply be­ing a ‘Com­mu­nity Agree­ment’. For those con­tem­plat­ing es­tab­lish­ing an agree­ment with DOC to as­sist with main­te­nance of an area, the new guid­ance notes ad­vise… “Be aware that un­der the Health and Safety at Work Act ( HSWA) 2015, DOC, as a Person Con­duct­ing a Busi­ness or Un­der­tak­ing ( PCBU), has a duty of care, so far as is rea­son­ably prac­ti­ca­ble, to en­sure the health and safety of a com­mu­nity group ( and the pub­lic) when it is car­ry­ing out ac­tiv­i­ties on PCL. For this rea­son, the com­mu­nity group is asked to re­port any haz­ards ( e.g. slips or tree falls), ad­verse nat­u­ral or other events that it may be be­come aware of that could have an im­pact on the ac­tiv­i­ties or safety around the site. Sim­i­larly, DOC needs to in­form the group when it is aware of haz­ards, ad­verse nat­u­ral or other events, in­clud­ing any planned work pro­grammes that might have an im­pact on the group’s ac­tiv­i­ties.” “Note that a com­mu­nity group, un­less it has a paid em­ployee, is not a PCBU un­der the HSWA. It has min­i­mal or no le­gal re­spon­si­bil­i­ties un­der the Act but still has a duty of care to en­sure its mem­bers work safely and that its ac­tiv­ity does not put the safety of the pub­lic at risk. DOC and the com­mu­nity group will need to iden­tify po­ten­tial haz­ards and risks and con­trol mea­sures to re­move or min­imise them. “If there are Spe­cial Con­di­tions, list these in Sched­ule 3. Spe­cial Con­di­tions can in­clude both in­clu­sions and ex­clu­sions for things such as track work, struc­tures, use of power tools, biose­cu­rity etc. “In most cases the com­mu­nity group will be cov­ered by the De­part­ment’s Gen­eral Li­a­bil­ity Pol­icy for third party per­sonal in­jury and prop­erty dam­age where it fol­lows DOC’s SOPs or uses its own safety pro­ce­dures that have been re­viewed and ac­cepted by DOC. The com­mu­nity group will also need to have a safety plan that has been re­viewed and ac­cepted by DOC. “There may be oc­ca­sions when a com­mu­nity group is re­quired to take out its own in­sur­ance cover, e.g., if all or some of its ac­tiv­i­ties fall out­side the scope of DOC’s in­sur­ance. En­sure that the ap­pro­pri­ate type of in­sur­ance is taken by the com­mu­nity group. This might in­clude Pub­lic Li­a­bil­ity in­sur­ance and in­sur­ance cover for as­sets such as a hut.” Noth­ing too oner­ous, just ad­di­tional work for DOC staff who were well ad­vanced on at least two agree­ments linked to four wheel­ing. One of those agree­ments re­lates to the Mara­toto area of Coro­man­del, which has a dis­tinct threat of be­ing closed to re­cre­ation as a con­se­quence of Kauri Dieback. It is un­der­stood that Mara­toto has been ‘un­der the mi­cro­scope’ for any ev­i­dence of Kauri Dieback. It would be nice to think that none is found, as that might mean that the bikes and 4WDs are not to blame for the gen­eral spread of the dis­ease. Another re­cre­ation that has copped some blame for mov­ing Kauri Dieback around is hunt­ing and maybe hunters are po­ten­tially at risk of be­com­ing a ‘ threat­ened species’ them­selves. A com­men­tary dur­ing Fe­bru­ary was seen to sup­port the ban­ning of pig hunt­ing because in an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, pigs were iden­ti­fied as con­tain­ing high lev­els of Brod­i­fa­courm poi­son. 13 of 14 wild pigs tested pos­i­tive to the poi­son. Of course, an al­ter­na­tive might be to stop us­ing Brod­i­fa­courm and 1080 poi­sons broad­cast across our forests, but given the big money in­volved now, it might take a pub­lic re­bel­lion to stop the process. Maybe it’s a cun­ning plan to erad­i­cate ‘pests’ from our coun­try­side… oh, that’s right, there is a plan to go ‘pest free’! Pre­cisely what are those pests have not been de­fined, but deer and trout are cer­tainly also on some or­gan­i­sa­tion’s lists. With pub­lic lands con­tain­ing Kauri trees be­ing in­creas­ingly likely to have all pub­lic ac­cess be­ing re­stricted to limit dis­ease trans­fer, it will mean that a great area around our big­gest population re­gion will be­come off-lim­its to a lot of peo­ple who en­joy the out­doors. I’ve long been an ad­vo­cate of the pos­si­bil­i­ties of that other pub­lic land, the un­formed le­gal road ( ULR) net­work and maybe we need to do more to un­leash those pos­si­bil­i­ties? Given the views held by some of the pub­lic that we too are a ‘pest’ and should be dealt to, our approach to the use of ULR could need a lit tle re­fine­ment. In Bri­tain such ULR are of­ten termed ‘green lanes’ and there’s been vir­tual war over their use for many years as the own­er­ship of four­wheel-drives in­creased, with few al­ter­na­tives for their use ‘off-road’. They’ve formed an as­so­ci­a­tion specif­i­cally to iden­tify and sup­port the use of those green lanes. There are guide­lines to be­hav­iour too, as that seems to be one of the ma­jor ir­ri­ta­tions to the pub­lic and ad­ja­cent landown­ers. It cer­tainly hasn’t solved all the prob­lems; with the highly di­verse lot that four wheel­ers are, but hav­ing that as­so­ci­a­tion to help pick up the pieces when things get a bit un­pleas­ant, ap­pears to have value. The Walk­ing Ac­cess Com­mis­sion would seem to al­ready be such a body, but I sus­pect that they’d rather not be the first in line to sort things for four wheel­ing. They al­ready help where they can, how­ever sig­nif­i­cant 4WD use of ULR could over­whelm their re­sources. Should we cre­ate an al­ter­na­tive?

Off-road­ing could be threat­ened by ac­cess re­stric­tions.

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