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.
The area of indigenous vegetation and habitat remaining on New Zealand’s primary agricultural lands continues to decrease, but it has been difficult to obtain reliable estimates of the extent and causes of loss. We assess change and identify predictors of vegetation clearance in 856 recommended areas for protection (RAPs) from 35 ecological districts in the North and South Islands, New Zealand, for the period 1989 to 2015. Over 27 years, 7152 ha of these RAPs were cleared (2.3% by area), with rates varying over space and time. Native
Reports of wetland loss in New Zealand are typically related to the historical, pre-European coverage of wetland ecosystems. It is widely accepted that large areas of wetlands were converted to other land uses prior to the 1990s before comprehensive national and regional environmental legislation was established. We sought to investigate recent (post 1990) changes in wetland extent to determine if current rates of wetland loss remain a concern for natural resources management.
We used recent satellite imagery to quantify the extent, type, and rate of conversion of remaining indigenous grasslands in the inland eastern South Island of New Zealand in recent years. We describe the pattern of conversion in relation to national classifications of land use capability and land environments, and ecological and administrative districts and regions. We show that although large areas of indigenous grasslands remain, grassland loss has been ongoing. Indigenous grassland was reduced in the study area by 3% (70 200 ha) between 1990 and 2008.
Loss of indigenous habitat is a key factor in the decline of New Zealand’s biodiversity. A recent contribution by Walker et al. (2006, New Zealand Journal of Ecology 30: 169–177) described losses of indigenous vegetation between 1996/97 and 2001/02 (some 17 000 ha) based on an analysis of changes in the Land Cover Database, LCDB1 and LCDB2, respectively.