Conservation Covenants

A conservation covenant is a voluntary agreement made between a landowner and an authorised agency which gives formal protection to the natural, cultural, historical and/or significant values of a site. 

The landowner continues to own the site, while managing it in accordance with the agreement. 

The covenanted area is registered on the Certificate 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.

The majority of conservation covenants in the Whangarei District cover native bush and wetland sites.

The District contains nearly one thousand conservation covenants covering 1,500ha and approximately 300 QEII covenants covering 2,500ha. In the District we also have 5 Nga Whenua Ranui covenants which cover 76ha.

Benefits of covenants

Covenants can improve the value of a site in many ways: 

  • reduce erosion
  • contribute to forming corridors to protect natural habitats
  • provide ecosystem services e.g. nutrient recycling, filtering rain and runoff
  • regulate climate by improving water quality and storing carbon.

Establishing a conservation covenant with us 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 receive rates relief for the covenanted area and ecological and technical advice.

Establishing a covenant with Council

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.

Covenants may be established as part of a subdivision development to give permanent protection and/or enhancement to areas of land which are worth protecting. However a covenant can be placed on a site at any time.

There are costs involved in establishing a covenant which include, but are not limited to, application fees, surveying and legal costs and registering the covenant on the property title. These costs are met by the landowner/s.

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 activities undertaken on or within it that are restricted by the covenant agreement will require our prior written approval.


We carry out ecological monitoring of the covenant at ten years from the date of agreement and then at ten year intervals. Monitoring assesses the state of the covenant and 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: