Biodiversity conservation in Aotearoa New Zealand is of high importance, and efforts to protect vulnerable populations from decline has garnered broad public support. Conservation efforts have been further highlighted with the 2016 announcement of Predator Free 2050, a nationwide goal to eliminate key invasive mammalian predators from New Zealand by the year 2050. Hands-on labour is often needed to complete conservation initiatives, and New Zealand conservation volunteers have shown themselves to be an abundant, effective, and oft-used workforce.
The Westland petrel (Procellaria westlandica) is a 1200 g medium-sized seabird whose breeding colonies are dispersed across 700 ha of forest on the western coast of South Island, New Zealand. These birds represent the sole landscape-scale lowland remnant of formerly widespread petrel and shearwater colonies in mainland New Zealand and provide an opportunity to investigate maritime species’ impact on terrestrial ecosystems characteristic of pre-human New Zealand.
Globally, translocations of herpetofauna have been notoriously unsuccessful. Most previous translocations of green geckos (Naultinus spp.) have failed to result in population establishment. However, recent penned releases of jewelled geckos (moko kākāriki; Naultinus gemmeus) have led to increased site fidelity, reduced dispersal, reduced home range sizes, and reduced minimum daily movements, facilitating population establishment.
Relying solely on public conservation lands for habitat provision will be inadequate for achieving national conservation goals. Production landscapes in New Zealand make up 60% of the land area and contain potential conservation habitat; however, the amount of native vegetation they contain is poorly known. While there have been previous assessments of native vegetation cover in New Zealand, no study has undertaken a national-scale assessment of multiple native vegetation cover types on different land uses. This absence limits the potential to manage production landscapes for conservation.
In the past few years genetic technologies springing from advances in DNA sequencing (so-called high-throughput sequencing), and/or from CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing, have been proposed as being useful in bioheritage research. The potential scope for the use of these genetic technologies in bioheritage is vast, including enabling the recovery of threatened species, engineering proxies of extinct species and genetically controlling pests.
The New Zealand Department of Conservation is responsible for biodiversity management over approximately one-third of New Zealand’s land area and a network of marine protected areas; it also has a more general role in managing protected species and biodiversity advocacy. In 2004 the Department of Conservation began the development of a national natural heritage monitoring framework known as the New Zealand Biodiversity Assessment Framework, which has been operational since 2011.
Pastoral farming is the dominant land use in New Zealand today and is under considerable domestic social and political pressure to reduce its environmental footprint. In this article, we explore options to enhance native biodiversity conservation within New Zealand pastoral systems. We argue that there is strong synergistic interdependence between biodiversity conservation and pastoral farming and suggest that it is possible to have win-win outcomes for both.
New Zealand has a unique opportunity to reshape the future of 1.2 million hectares, or 5% of the country. Since 1990, land clearance and development in the South Island high country have removed large areas of native vegetation, destroying already tenuous endemic species populations, and rare and threatened ecosystems. Important ecosystems and ecological values have been subtly or dramatically degraded through tenure review, discretionary consents, and invasions of plant and animal pests.
Dispersal is a fundamentally important aspect of animal behaviour, but empirical data describing it are lacking for many species. Here, we report on a field study aimed at measuring post-weaning movement distances of juvenile ship rats (Rattus rattus) and their mother away from a known natal nest site in an area with low conspecific population density. The movement behaviour of invasive species at low density is of particular interest, as it can inform design of surveillance arrays to detect incursion into predator-free areas.
Globally, biodiversity is declining due to increasing populations and land use pressures associated with development-induced land conversion, resource use, and food production. In New Zealand, a considerable proportion of remaining indigenous biodiversity occurs on farmland in private ownership outside of the public conservation land.