The first overview of Ecosystem Services in New Zealand
Wednesday 12 Feb 2014
Ecosystem Services in New Zealand, a 538-page publication on the conditions and trends of ecosystem services in this country, was launched at the Ministry for the Environment’s offices in Wellington last night.
Edited by Landcare Research Principal Scientist Dr John Diamond, with contributions from more than 100 of New Zealand’s leading scientists and academics, the book provides the first overview of ecosystem services in New Zealand.
Ecosystem services are categorised as ‘provisioning’, such as food, timber and freshwater; ‘regulating’, such as air quality, climate and pest regulation; ‘cultural’ such as recreation and sense of belonging; and ‘supporting’, such as soil quality and natural habitat resistance to weeds.
John says the book was produced to improve understanding of the functioning of New Zealand’s ecosystems. “It’s important that our management of ecosystem services is based on sound knowledge.
“We didn’t set out to create a scorecard but it’s inevitable that people will look at a publication like this and ask ‘How are we doing?’
“When we consider that in the past 50 years, humans have transformed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any other period in human history, I think that on the whole New Zealand’s story is a reasonably balanced one.
“If we take a fairly simplistic, high-level view of the trending of indicators over the past 20 years, most have shown no net change, or both improvements and deterioration at different locations.”
However, John says the number of gains have been fairly evenly matched by losses.
“On the positive side, we are seeing improvements in pest management in cities and native forest, growth in indigenous forest and shrubland, and health and environmental benefits from less use of open fires and better home insulation. On the negative side, some examples are the decline in pollination services. We are losing biodiversity, particularly rare species and in freshwater and wetland environments, and also water is being over-allocated in some catchments.
“There are no surprises there,” says John. “In producing this book we haven’t set out to unearth any new revelations. It was simply about synthesising information that has already been produced and making it more readily available.”
Ecosystem Services in New Zealand (published by Manaaki Whenua Press and available from Nationwide Book Distributors: www.nationwidebooks.co.nz, ph: 0800 990 123)