The Resource Management Act 1991 places obligations on local authorities to protect and maintain indigenous biodiversity on land in private tenure. However, how this should be done is not explicitly prescribed. Authorities are guided by a variety of means (e.g. ecological guidance and case law), and implement their responsibilities to varying degrees and with inconsistent success. The protection of indigenous biodiversity on private land is a challenging and contentious issue.
By summarising ecological publications over the last 30 years, this paper provides an assessment of the amount and focus of New Zealand ecological research with respect to land tenure. While the number of published articles that deal with private land has increased over the last 30 years, the majority of New Zealand ecological research publications (65%) still focuses on public conservation lands, despite these only accounting for c. 30% of the land area.