Conservation covenants

A conservation covenant protects the natural, cultural, historical and significant values of a site. 

It is a legally binding agreement between a landowner and an authorised agency. The landowner continues to own the site, while managing it in accordance with the agreement. 

The covenanted area is registered on the record of title and is binding on future owners of the site. 

Covenants are a good example of individuals working with us to protect and enhance biodiversity values and habitat for threatened species within the District.

Conservation covenants in Whangārei cover a range of habitats including native bush, scrub, dune lands, wetlands and river margins.

Covenants can be created both voluntarily or through the conditions of a resource consent.

Benefits of covenants

Establishing a conservation covenant formalises the protection of a site in perpetuity (forever). Such protection can increase property values along with natural, cultural and historic values.

Landowners who enter into covenants may receive rates relief for the covenanted area and ecological and technical advice. 

Covenants can improve a site in many ways:

  • reducing erosion
  • forming habitat corridors to protect ecosystems for native plants and animals
  • enhancing water quality and ecosystems (for example: by filtering runoff)
  • contributing to reducing climate change by storing carbon.

Covenants under the Reserves Act

We are authorised by Section 77 of the Reserves Act 1977 to establish conservation covenants with landowners on private land. Covenants on Māori land can be created under the Te Turi Whenua Māori Act 1993.

A covenant can be placed on a site at any time.

The costs to set up a covenant are met by the landowner. These include:

  • application fees
  • expert reports
  • surveying
  • legal costs
  • registering the covenant on the property title.

To establish a covenant with us, an applicant should contact the Infrastructure Planning Department who will provide additional information about what is required and how to establish a covenant.

Contact us

Covenants may also be established as part of a subdivision to give permanent protection or enhancement to an area.

Your responsibilities

If you have created a covenant or bought property with one, you are responsible for its management. Some funding may be obtained for assistance with fencing and pest control, although this is not guaranteed. 

Your responsibilities may include:

  • undertaking pest and weed management
  • maintenance of access tracks and perimeter fences
  • encouraging the regeneration of native vegetation.

You are responsible for ensuring that the site is preserved. Any work restricted by the covenant agreement will require our prior written approval.


We carry out ecological monitoring of the covenant, ten years from the date of agreement, and then at ten year intervals. The monitoring assesses and reports on the state of the covenant. We provide a copy of the report to the landowner.

Covenants with other agencies

Covenants can also be entered into with the Department of Conservation and the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust (QEII). 

Find out more information by visiting their websites: