In New Zealand, regional councils have the task of sustainably managing rivers and their flows. In trying to achieve this task they face enormous challenges including the need to allocate flows amongst often highly disparate in- (e.g., angling, kayaking, native fish and birds) and out-of-river (e.g., irrigation and hydro energy) values/needs. To aid in this task these councils need to know which rivers or parts of rivers are relatively more or less important on national, regional and local bases, for particular values. This task becomes even more challenging given limited information availability for many values, and no overarching policy or decision framework. In this paper I report on a FRST-funded (and less than 1-year long) project which has addressed these challenges. A multi-criteria and expert panel based methodology has been developed and applied to a wide range of values to produce lists of rivers by value, ranked according to their national, regional and local importance. The methodology is described and example applications given. The need to ‘buy-in’ multi-and, ultimately, interdisciplinary participation is emphasized as well as a range of ongoing implementation challenges and further needs.


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