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GEOG397 Environmental Management: Policy and Practice

Semester Two, 18 points

Lectures: Tuesday: 3pm-3.50pm; Wednesday: 4pm – 4.50pm
Practicals: one 2 hour practical as scheduled

Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Mike Hilton –

An abandoned fence line and paddock at WaitatiThe environmental problems facing communities, nations and the planet are now well recognized and in many cases the scientific nature of these problems is well understood. Environmental management seeks to avoid or remedy these problems in order to sustain ecosystems, biodiversity, cultures and communities. In GEOG397 we explore the methods of, and approaches to, environmental management. We seek to understand the strengths and weaknesses of a wide range of methods and interventions, including regulatory approaches, financial methods, advocacy and the sharing of information, ecosystem restoration, agreements and accords, and co-management approaches to environmental management.

We focus on processes of environmental management in New Zealand associated with the Resource Management Act 1991, the Conservation Act 1987 and the Treaty of Waitangi. New Zealand is recognised as a world leader in many environmental areas, however, we share with most developed nations a legacy of over-harvest of natural resources, ecosystems overrun with A section of the Dunedin City District Plan showing student housing zonesintroduced predators and pest plants, poorly designed waste disposal systems, environmental hazards, and climate-change, to name but a few issues. These are interesting times to reflect on how these issues have been addressed in the recent past, and the need for further reforms in our environmental management legislation and practice. Such reforms are on-going as we seek to achieve the sustainable management of our natural resources.

Oblique photograph showing the R3 student housing zonesWe welcome students from a wide range of backgrounds in this course. Most problems and issues can be resolved, but only if we recognise their multidimensional nature. We may need to recognise the biological or chemical dimensions of a problem, the social or cultural dimensions, the history of the problem, emerging technologies that might help us avoid the problem, as well as methods of addressing problems. Whether you are enrolled in a BA, BSc, BAppSc or Law degree you will find this course provides valuable perspectives on environmental management.

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Responses of societies to environmental problems, with emphasis on environmental management policy and practice in New Zealand.

This paper provides an understanding of environmental management law, policy and process in New Zealand. It is an ideal introduction to environmental management for those majoring in subjects in the Sciences and Humanities who may wish to work in government departments, consultancies or local authorities.

Paper title Environmental Management: Policy and Practice
Paper code GEOG397
Subject Geography
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,141.35
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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54 GEOG points or 180 points
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science
The content of the paper assumes that students have passed first-year geography papers and an undergraduate environmental management paper or equivalent. The paper is also popular with science students wishing to prepare for a career in environmental management with local authorities, consultancies or central government.
Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinator: Associate Professor Michael Hilton

Teaching Staff: Professor Claire Freeman
Dr Sean Connelly

Paper Structure

This paper comprises laboratories (including a local fieldtrip) and an individual research essay. Assessment is split 50% internal (ongoing during the semester) and 50% final exam.

Teaching Arrangements

Two lectures per week and six 2-hour laboratories scheduled over the 13 weeks of semester (Local field trips may be held in laboratory slots).


There are no prescribed textbooks for GEOG 397. The nature of environmental management makes it inevitable that you will draw from a wide range of literature, websites, texts and journals. A selection of readings for each topic will be posted on Blackboard.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Lifelong learning, Communication, Critical thinking, Research, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

By the end of the paper you should have developed a critical understanding of environmental management practice in New Zealand, including:

  • The roles, functions and decision-making processes of the principal environmental agencies in New Zealand, including local and central government
  • The implications of Article II of the Treaty of Waitangi and Māori perspectives
  • The provisions of key environmental statues, particularly the RMA 1991
  • Planning methods employed by local authorities in policy statements and plans
  • Hazard management - particularly coastal hazard management
  • Methods of conservation management, species recovery and ecosystem restoration in New Zealand, including urban areas and areas of high conservation value

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Tuesday 15:00-15:50 28-34, 36-41
Wednesday 16:00-16:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
P1 Monday 09:00-10:50 29, 31, 33-34, 40
P2 Monday 11:00-12:50 29, 31, 33-34, 40
P3 Tuesday 09:00-10:50 29, 31, 33-34, 40
P4 Thursday 09:00-10:50 29, 31, 33-34, 40
P5 Friday 09:00-10:50 29, 31, 33-34, 40
P6 Friday 11:00-12:50 29, 31, 33-34, 40