RiVAS (and RiVAS+): Insights and lessons from 5 years’ experience with the River Values Assessment System

The River Values Assessment System (RiVAS and RiVAS+) are tools that enable regional councils and others to ‘objectively’ and systematically evaluate rivers in their regions for their relative importance across the range of river values (e.g., native birds, irrigation and tangata whenau). RiVAS (which assesses existing importance) has been applied to 11 values, and to a large number of these in each of three regions (Tasman, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay). RiVAS+ (restoration potential) has had limited application. There are multiple insights from these applications. First, RiVAS and RiVAS+ are highly cost effective. At around $6000 per value-application councils obtain: a collaborative approach resulting in stronger relationships between councils and stakeholder groups; up to date (and user friendly and accessible) information on value-related data often never collected otherwise; lists of rivers ranked according to national (high), regional (moderate) and low (importance) using the same method; indications of where the best prospects for restoration activities exist; and information that is immediately useful in the broader policy making processes. The paper reports also on the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities associated with ongoing application of the tool.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-10-19

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