New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2020) 44(2): 3408

Achieving win-win outcomes for pastoral farming and biodiversity conservation in New Zealand

Research Article
David A. Norton 1*
Febyana Suryaningrum 2
Hannah L. Buckley 2
Brad S. Case 2
C. Hamish Cochrane 3
Adam S. Forbes 1
Matt Harcombe 4
  1. Te Kura Ngahere/School of Forestry, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 8014, New Zealand
  2. School of Science, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
  3. Capra hircus Consulting, C/- 3 Picton Ave, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand
  4. 3 Conway Street, Dunedin 9014 , New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

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. Landowners need to be incentivised and rewarded for good biodiversity management, rather than relying on a strict rules-based approach. To bring integrity and objective support to this incentive-based approach, farmers need to adopt environmental management planning that is supported by good biodiversity extension resources. Alongside this, a verification system is required that shows farmers are doing what they say they are doing and reflects agreed management targets for biodiversity. This approach requires trust and partnership among all players in agroecosystems – farmers, government, food and fibre processors, scientists, conservationists, NGOs, and the wider New Zealand population. We suggest that if we change the way we think about how farming and biodiversity interact, then we will achieve substantial biodiversity gains across the 50% of New Zealand under pastoral farming. This then brings integrity to the existing and expanding market story for pastoral farming and creates a stronger connection between all New Zealanders and the farming sector. Advancing our thinking in this way will enable New Zealand to maintain a premium for our farming products internationally while supporting conservation of our native biodiversity.