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.
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.
Many of New Zealand’s natural and induced tussock grasslands are in a degraded low-biomass state due to a combination of fire, overgrazing and weed invasion. The capacity of degraded grasslands to recover biomass is uncertain because legacies of degradation can strongly influence the demographic processes controlling ecosystem recovery. We develop a conceptual framework for understanding biomass carbon (C) flux in degraded perennial grassland based on demographic processes of growth, mortality and recruitment.