Climate Change

Climate change has the potential to significantly affect productive land management and subsequently biodiversity values. The Ministry for the Environment have stated that the likely climate change impacts on New Zealand include; higher temperatures, (more in the North Island than the South) and more frequent extreme weather events such as droughts (more so in the east of New Zealand), sea level rise and floods. Changes in rainfall patterns are expected- higher rainfall in the west of the country and less in the east. 4131  Thus climate change will likely effect the availability of water, other potential effects of increased temperature and/ or humidity on horticulture could include increases in horticultural plant disease risk. 4132  The Ministry states that “Water demand will be heightened during hot, dry summers, Longer summers with higher temperatures and lower rainfall will reduce soil moisture and groundwater supplies. River flows are likely to be lower in summer and higher in winter,” and that “Lower river flows in summer will raise water temperatures and aggravate water quality problems.” 4133

Comprehensive climate change impact analysis for New Zealand horticulture has not yet been published. 4134  For pastoral agriculture, in 2008 projections of future climate change impacts were carried out for different regions and interpreted for their economic impacts. 4135

Predicted changing temperatures and rainfall patterns, plus a rise in sea levels, will impact on habitat availability and range for native and introduced species. There is little doubt that the consequences of a changing climate will have an impact at all levels of the biodiversity spectrum, including genes, species and ecosystems. 4136

Quality Planning

Ultimately regional plans attempt to mitigate risks the environment including loss of biodiversity under the Resource Management Act (RMA).  Unfortunately the plans are disparate across the myriad of Regional Councils in NZ.  This reduces their effectiveness.  The Quality Planning website, launched in 2001, informs those writing regional plans to  harmonise plans and promote good practice by sharing knowledge about all aspects of practice under the RMA. The QP website is now the primary tool for delivering robust information on RMA processes and environmental policy to resource management practitioners.  While not covering all aspects of resource use at this, some examples are provided.

For more information guidance notes are currently availabe here.  

  1. RM Beresford RM and AH McKay, Climate change impacts on plant diseases affecting New Zealand horticulture (Ministry of Primary Industries, September 2012).

  2. RM Beresford RM and AH McKay, Climate change impacts on plant diseases affecting New Zealand horticulture (Ministry of Primary Industries, September 2012) at 8.

  3. Troy Baisden and others The costs and benefits of climate change and adaptation to climate change in New Zealand agriculture; what we know so far (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, April 2008) at 19.

  4. W Green and B Clarkson, 2005, Turning the tide? A review of the first five years of the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy, The Synthesis Report submitted to the Biodiversity Chief Executives in November 2005, Wellington.

Last updated at 11:06AM on November 27, 2015