Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua


Outcome 1: Improved measurement, management, and protection of New Zealand’s terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity, including in the conservation estate


The integrity of our iconic natural places – and the biodiversity they support – is central to our identity, lifestyle and the economy. Intergenerational responsibility for the management of indigenous ecosystems, expressed through kaitiakitanga, is also central to Maori aspirations.

Since human settlement of New Zealand, many ecosystems have declined extensively in area and function, often as the result of invasive species. Although one-third of New Zealand’s land area is legally protected, there is a strong bias in these areas toward montane and alpine regions. Many of our naturally uncommon ecosystems occur outside protected areas. Lowland and dryland ecosystems are facing increasing threats from agricultural intensification, conversion to plantation forestry, mining, urban development and invasive species.

On the other hand, large tracts of retired marginal land have naturally regenerating native vegetation. Biodiversity also benefits from the network of wildlife sanctuaries covering 56 000 ha of New Zealand. (We host the Sanctuaries of New Zealand website and coordinate an annual workshop for sanctuary stakeholders.)

The effective management of biodiversity must be undertaken in the context of more complete knowledge of its composition and of changes in its state through time and in different ecosystems. This will allow the most threatened components of biodiversity to be identified and addressed through targeted research and effective management, and will highlight the most immediate opportunities to improve the delivery, efficiency and effectiveness of policy.

Demonstrating improvements in biodiversity status at local, regional and national scales will enable us to protect New Zealand’s natural landscapes, facilitate appropriate development, and meet international obligations to care for our unique plants and animals.

Impact 1 :Trends in national and regional biodiversity on public and private land are understood and based on best available descriptions for species and comprehensive indices of ecological integrity.



DOC and regional councils are using comparable metrics to measure status and trend and impacts of interventions on biodiversity within their jurisdiction.

  • Regional Councils (through the Biodiversity Forum) and DOC (through their Planning, Monitoring and Reporting Unit) are adopting the Ecological Integrity Concept, and its biodiversity metrics
  • As a basis for determining status and trend, regional councils and DOC began using these Ecological Integrity metrics in their reporting, including in DOC's 2011/12 Annual Report

Impact 2 :The most threatened ecosystems, habitats and species can be managed to reduce the risk of decline in native biodiversity.

KPI 2a


Consents related to land-use change under the Resource Management Act (RMA) are informed by a scientifically-based set of criteria that take account of cumulative effects on habitat availability.

  • Cumulative effects of land-use intensification on highly-threatened dryland ecosystems in inland eastern South Island were a criterion used by the Environment Court and the High Court in four current hearings considering resource consents for major land-use changes
  • The ‘Upper Waitaki Shared Vision’ collaborative forum of landowners, businesses and public interest groups reached agreement that 100 000 ha of new protective management of habitats is required in the Upper Waitaki (Mackenzie) Basin
  • Applying the IUCN’s ecosystem Red-List criteria, which are based on changes in ecosystem extent (i.e. habitat availability) and reductions in ecosystem processes, to New Zealand’s 72 naturally uncommon ecosystems identified 18 critically endangered, 17 endangered and 10 vulnerable ecosystem types

KPI 2b


Management decisions by DOC, MPI and regional councils, aimed at reducing threats to species and habitats, are based on robust risk models that reflect best available knowledge about the efficacy, cost and acceptability of management strategies and tools.

  • A novel framework, which links species extinction rates to changes in both spatial distribution and population size, provides a potential common platform for end-users (such as sanctuary initiatives and DOC) to compare the expected outcomes (such as changes in overall species security) of different actions that change species habitat area and/or alter in situ population sizes.
  • Updated threat listings of plants, fungi and terrestrial invertebrates are enabling DOC to reallocate resources for managing the most critically threatened species
  • DOC and 14 regional, district and city councils have ranked their top ten environmental weeds using a risk model based on impacts and difficulty of control