Significant Natural Areas Fund Criteria & Guidelines


1. Aim of the Significant Natural Areas Fund

  1. To assist and actively encourage landowners and members of the Timaru District community to manage, protect and enhance significant natural areas; and
  2. To enable Council to take an active role in managing, protecting and enhancing significant natural areas.

2. Significant Natural Areas Criteria

A district-wide significant natural areas survey has been conducted by Timaru District Council. In determining whether a natural area is significant in terms of section 6(c) of the Resource Management Act 1991, Council has used the assessment criteria set out in the Canterbury Regional Policy Statement 2013. These criteria assess sites against four key attributes: representativeness, rarity/distinctiveness, diversity and pattern, and ecological context.

3. Funding Categories

Two funding categories are provided as follows:

Category One: Landowner and Community Projects

For projects initiated by landowners and community groups that meet the provisions of Section 4 of these Guidelines.

Category Two: Council Initiated Projects

For projects initiated by Council in and around priority Significant Natural Areas that meet provisions of Section 5 of these Guidelines.

4. Category One: Landowner and Community Applications

4.1    Eligible Project Type

Applications must fall into one or more of the following types to be eligible for funding under Category One:

  • T1      Fencing Projects - Fencing off and permanently protecting significant natural areas.
  • T2      Weed/Pest Control Projects – Weed and pest management in and around Significant Natural Areas.
  • T3      Enhancement Projects – Replanting and restoration of significant natural areas to enhance their ecological and habitat values.
  • T4      Covenanting Projects – Providing a legal covenant that permanently protects a Significant Natural Area.

4.2    Project Criteria

Category One projects must meet the criteria detailed in Table 1 below:

Table 1 - Funding Criteria for the different types of projects under Category One


Project Type





The project must be for an area that is within the boundaries of Timaru District.





The project must be within or benefit an area which meets the Significant Natural Area Criteria listed in Appendix 3 of the Canterbury Regional Policy Statement.





The area must not be planted with any exotic vegetation once protected





Significant native vegetation and significant habitats of native fauna shall not be damaged, disturbed or destroyed





Livestock must be excluded from the area to be protected




It must have a protective covenant registered on the title of the land



4.3     Information Required for Application

The following information is required for any funding applications lodged under Category One:

  • a. Complete and signed application form;
  • b. A description of the current problem/threats to the area (eg cattle grazing undergrowth of remnant forest, plant pests or animal pests like possums, goats, stoats etc which need controlling/eradicating);
  • c. A description of how to ensure that the site is managed in a manner that protects and enhances the Significant Natural Area;
  • d. A line drawing of the property on an A4 aerial photograph showing the project area and the proposed management measures. Note an aerial photo can be obtained free of charge from the GIS Unit or Planning Unit.

4.4     Timing of Applications

Category One applications will be open for a month from the 1st of August each year. The application period will be advertised by public notice as well as sending letters to all Significant Natural Area land owners.

All applications will need to be received by the Planning Unit by the end of the application period.

4.5     Project Costs

Grants are allocated based on estimated project costs, which are established based on quotations provided from service providers. Council will reimburse applicants upon receiving receipts for completed works.

The following costs are not eligible for funding:

  • Costs incurred prior to the lodging of the application;
  • Any costs involved in preparing the application;
  • Equipment costs;
  • Landowner’s labour contribution; and
  • Debt servicing.

4.6     Grant Limitation

Grant limitations for Category one projects are shown in Table 2 below:

Table 2 - Category One Grant Limitation


Grant Limitation

Annual Budget


Maximum grant per project

Up to $10,000

Council verses Landowner Contribution

Council will generally fund up to 50% of the total project costs. Projects proposing greater than 50% Council contribution will be assessed on their merits.

Contractor’s labour cost

Council will generally fund up to 50% of a contractors labour costs. Projects proposing greater than 50% Council contribution will be assessed on their merits.

GST will be paid in addition to the grant where:

  • the project is part of the applicant’s taxable activity; and
  • Council is provided with a GST tax invoice.

4.7     Assessment of Applications

As the number of projects and their total value may exceed the amount of money Council has available each year, funding will be prioritised by the following criteria:

  • a. Landowner’s contribution (labour or cash) towards to the project.
  • b. The ecological significance of the site.
  • c. The ecological values that will be protected by the project.
  • d. The likely benefits/outcomes of the project.
  • e. The urgency of the project.
  • f. The sustainability of the project.

Applications will be assessed by the Council’s Planning Unit.

4.8     Delegation

Funding decisions for Category One projects will be made by the District Planning Manager or Group Manager Environmental Services under delegated authority.

4.9     Conditions on Grant

The following conditions shall apply to any grants made:

  1. The applicant must notify the Planning Unit of the acceptance of the grant by signing the legal agreement supplied with the letter of offer and returning it.
  2. Projects must be completed prior to a reimbursement request is lodged. The applicant must notify the council of the completed works and allowing Council access to the site to monitor the projects.
  3. All costs associated with the project are first paid by the applicant. Original receipts should be forwarded to the Planning Unit for processing. The grant will only be paid in relation to the approved works, at the approved Council contribution rate, and capped at the maximum approved grant.
  4. Any grant approval is personal to the applicant and cannot be reassigned without the written approval of the District Planning Manager or Group Manager Environmental Services.
  5. Grants must be uplifted within the time specified in the approval. The Timaru District Council may consider an extension on request.
  6. Grants are made subject to the Council being satisfied that the information given is true and correct and that there has been no omission of any relevant factor nor any misrepresentation made. Council retains the right to refuse payments to approved applicants in cases where it determines that it has been misled by the applicant or if the applicant has been placed in receivership, voluntary liquidation or declared bankrupt.
  7. In all cases, the decision of the Timaru District Council shall be final and there will be no rights of appeal or review.
  8. The Timaru District Council reserves the right to visit any project or use it for promotional purposes where grant assistance has been given. In all cases, the applicant will be notified of a visit.
  9. The Timaru District Council reserves the right to suspend and to refuse further grant payments if in the opinion of the Council the grantee willfully or through neglect causes the project to fail. The decision of the Council shall be final and there shall be no rights of appeal or review and no right to compensation or damages of any nature.

Note: Additional conditions may be imposed at the discretion of the Timaru District Council.

4.10    Reimbursement Process

The reimbursement of an approved grant is outlined in Figure 1 below:

Figure 1 - Reimbursement Process

5     Category Two: Council Initiated Projects

5.1     Eligible Project Type

Category Two projects must fall into one of the following types to be eligible for funding:

  • T5      Work Projects – projects that carry out physical works to protect, manage and enhance indigenous biodiversity values in or around priority Significant Natural Areas.
  • T6      Education and Support Projects – projects that aim to raise community and landowner’s awareness of the significance and values of significant natural areas, as well as educating, supporting and encouraging landowners to protect and enhance Significant Natural Areas within their land.

5.2     Significant Natural Areas Projects

Projects for Priority Significant Natural Areas will be identified annually by the Council’s Biodiversity Steering Group based on six factors:

  • a. Biodiversity values of the site
  • b. Present threats to those biodiversity values
  • c. Urgency of those threats
  • d. Present opportunities for management and/or protection
  • e. Previous investment at the site
  • f. Strategic benefit

5.3     Grant Limitation

Grant under Category Two are limited to $70,000 plus any remaining funds not spent on Category One projects, less 5% of the total project values under the fund, which is reserved for monitoring projects under this fund.

5.4     Delegation

The allocation of funds to Category Two will be recommended by the Biodiversity Steering Group. Decisions on the allocation of funds under Category Two will be made by the District Planning Manager or Group Manager Environmental Services under delegated authority.

Adopted  Environmental Services Committee 27 November 2018

Last updated: 24 Feb 2021