New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2015) 39(2): 309- 315

An updated assessment of indigenous cover remaining and legal protection in New Zealand’s land environments

Short Communication
Ellen Cieraad 1*
Susan Walker 2
Robbie Price 3
James Barringer 1
  1. Landcare Research, PO Box 69040, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand
  2. Landcare Research, Private Bag 1930, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
  3. Landcare Research, Private Bag 3127, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

It is important, yet hard, to assess how much of the full range of New Zealand’s terrestrial natural ecosystems and biodiversity remains, and is protected from loss. Updated spatial datasets of land cover and protection allow a nation-wide consistent assessment of the loss and protection context of indigenous biodiversity components. A revision of the ‘Threatened Environment Classification’ is presented using a combination analysis of the national land cover database based on satellite imagery (2012), an updated national spatial database of protected areas (2012), and an abiotic classification of New Zealand’s land environments. The data suggest there is more protection in environments with historically high levels of indigenous vegetation and protection, while a number of lowland and montane environments have less indigenous vegetation and protection than was previously estimated. In conjunction with field surveys, the threatened environment classification can help identify places that are priorities for formal protection against clearance and/or incompatible land uses, and for ecological restoration.