How to avoid harm to New Zealand’s diverse native flora and fauna


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New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity is unique and complex, it is decreasing and it is threatened. People and companies are often unsure what to do or not to do to maintain it. A new paper in New Zealand Journal of Ecology contains some comprehensive and concise criteria to provide guidance on which biodiversity is most important in order to protect it from further deterioration.

Co-author Suzie Greenhalgh says, “We developed our criteria for the Biodiversity Collaborative Group (BCG) in preparation for the long-delayed National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity (NPS-IB). The BCG asked us to conserve biodiversity, what impacts on biodiversity must be avoided and what impacts could be remedied or mitigated and why? ‘”

“We responded with a set of criteria that every person, company and organization uses in order to make smarter decisions about conserving biodiversity.

Indigenous biodiversity will inevitably continue to decline if further permanent losses occur. The criteria therefore focus on effects that are irreversible and cannot be eliminated completely and promptly. The most widespread irreversible effects are those that reduce the extent or quality of remaining indigenous ecosystems and species habitats, including ecosystems that are heavily changing or regenerating. The authors emphasize that several small local cuts add up to large losses: “Death by a thousand cuts”.

Since only a few, mostly species-poor and recently formed indigenous ecosystems and habitats can realistically be restored, the authors suggest that a human generation (25 years) should be the maximum time for complete restoration.

They also identify some effects that might be reversible, such as:

Lead author Susan Walker says that “The draft of the NPS-IB proposed identifying significant natural areas that have many benefits but will likely be a lengthy process. Meanwhile, native biodiversity continues to decline, and these criteria provide an important resource and a starting point. ” for those who want to do what’s right for nature. That often means ‘leaving it alone’. ”

Indigenous peoples and local communities are key to achieving the biodiversity goals

More information:
Susan Walker et al., New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2021). DOI: 10.20417 / nzjecol.45.26

Provided by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research

Quote: How to Avoid Harm to New Zealand’s Diverse Native Plants and Animals (2021, July 6), accessed July 6, 2021 from

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