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How lizards might affect your new development

By Thomas Holmes, Planner, Baseline Group | Dec 15, 2021

There are five species of lizard consisting of either skinks and geckos present on Banks Peninsula and in the Canterbury High Country; four species in particular are either declining or nationally vulnerable, namely the Spotted Skink, Jewelled Gecko, Canterbury Gecko and Common Skink.

New Zealand’s native lizards are a protected species, so before any development can begin on land where they are found, approval from DOC and Council may be required. Development projects that may require these include work to clear vegetation, landscaping, any construction, or road building.

How could this affect you?

If lizard populations are discovered during development stages, this can result in costly delays to any project. It is important your site is thoroughly investigated prior to any development taking place if it falls within any of the known habitat locations around Canterbury.

If lizards are found within your site, Council may require you to undertake an ecological site survey to determine the extent of lizard populations within your site, development exclusion zones may need to be set up if the lizards cannot be relocated.

Relocation of lizard populations can be a time consuming and costly process usually involving obtaining DOC approvals, herpetologist fees and additional construction and staffing costs which can quickly eat into your budget.

Often a Lizard Management Plan will be required to support any DOC application. Lizard management plans are site-specific plans written to identify and implement the actions required to ensure that lizards and their habitats are protected when disturbance to land is proposed. These management plans also aim to ensure that any modification potentially affecting lizards complies with environmental legislation.

How do I know if my site could host lizards?

Lizards are typically found in dry river cobbles, scree, amongst rock outcrops, in coastal scrubland and forestry blocks. All of these lizards can be found at sites scattered right across Banks Peninsula.

The Canterbury Gecko is nocturnal mostly ground dwelling and most often found in rocky outcrops on the peninsula. The threatened jewelled gecko is active during the day and lives in trees. Skink species are also common on land in the Canterbury headwaters and river valleys and around sea bird populations.

If you do find that your property supports endangered lizards, there are a few management techniques you can use to protect them during your land development projects. Having a specialist confirm the extent of any habitat will help, and these areas can be buffered from earthworks, forestry harvesting and construction activities. Excluding livestock and maintaining pest control of possum’s deer and goats will also assist in managing these areas. Finally ensuring any staff or contractors to your site are aware of the habitat areas and are generally avoided.

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