Extra Resources To Improve Understanding Of The State Of Nz's Biodiversity

  • Simon Upton

"A $2.3 million programme will develop the tools necessary for New Zealand to protect its unique biodiversity", Environment Minister Simon Upton said today.

He was speaking at the launch of Auckland City Council's Environment Policy.

The new initiative, which was provided for in last month's budget, will develop marine, freshwater and land-related biodiversity indicators.

Mr Upton said, "the current state of New Zealand's biodiversity isn't widely monitored at the moment. Our understanding of genetic diversity on land and in the water, and the diversity of territorial habitats and eco-systems is patchy. Aside from one or two prominent fish stocks, we know virtually nothing about the eco-systems of our huge marine environment."

"Biodiversity is the number one environmental issue facing New Zealand. Our country and its surrounding seas are incredibly rich in 'native' flora and fauna. Just how rich, and just how healthy the eco-systems are, however, we don't know."

"The new resources will help fund the development of meaningful measures, (indicators), of our biodiversity: identifying the best things to measure and the best techniques to use. In time they will be used to gather information that will feed into State of the Environment reporting throughout the country. We'll know, on better authority, where the problems are and what the priorities are for action," Mr Upton concluded.

Gathering biodiversity indicators may be as simple as developing a standard methodology and check list for researchers to take to bush areas. At the other end of the scale, it could involve working towards techniques that can use satellite images to indicate the extent and health of eco-systems.