The Role of Law
Edited by Ed Couzens, Alexander Paterson, Sophie Riley and Yanti Fristikawati
Chapter 11: Black coral forests and marine biodiversity in New Zealand
The chapter explains that most, if not all, countries are struggling to halt the decline of indigenous biodiversity, and New Zealand is one such. One problem is that, notwithstanding baseline state of the environment reporting since 1997, there has been political resistance to preparing national policy statements regarding indigenous biodiversity to assist with interpreting the law, and attempts to implement modern up-to-date legislation have stalled since 2002. This chapter focuses on a certain coastal marine area, and the largest global submarine forest of black coral trees found in that area, as a mechanism for evaluating the effectiveness of New Zealand’s marine protection laws. Generally, an empirical approach is used to interrogate what environmental practice would look like if carried out in a sustainable way, what government entities and the private sector are doing to foster sustainable outcomes, and what should be done to promote sustainability. The overall argument made in the chapter is that different evaluation approaches (constitutional, empirical and governance) are useful in exposing any gaps between policy and practice within the legal system. It is finally concluded that applying a variety of evaluation approaches is useful in exposing the nature and extent of any implementation gaps, and that in pragmatically driven common law systems there is evidence that anticipated environmental outcomes are not always driven by the law.
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