Aotearoa New Zealand is a unique, geographically isolated island country with an abundance of natural wealth and beauty.
As one of the last major land masses to be inhabited by humans, our land, fresh water and marine environment, are expansive and the home to an amazing variety of indigenous ecosystems, flora and fauna.
Biodiversity and ecosystems are central to all human life, our own economic prosperity and wellbeing is dependent on the integrity and resilience of these natural systems. NZ is lucky to have retained expansive natural wealth and beauty, however it is clear our use and dependency on this natural wealth is not sustainable. Too many of our environmental indicators tell us our natural assets are in a state of decline. Environmental reporting from the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ shows:
The quality of our freshwater has declined considerably over the last 15 years across nine key international characteristics that are monitored.
Land use has seen a dramatic increase in exotic forest plantations, urbanisation and agriculture over the past 20 years, while indigenous forests and vegetation has declined.
In 2008, wetlands covered 0.9% of New Zealand’s land cover, compared to an estimated 9.2% of land cover in pre-human time.
In 2012, it was estimated that 192 tonnes of eroded soil entered New Zealand’s rivers each year.
Despite strong and targeted conservation efforts by iwi/Māori, Government, business and local communities, we continue to put extreme pressure on our native biodiversity.
Presently, more than 3,000 of our native species are classified as ‘threatened’ (800) and facing extinction, or ‘at-risk’ (remaining 2,200) and could see their populations decline through some slight change in conditions.
In 2014, New Zealand had 71 identified rare ecosystems, of which 45 were threatened with extinction.