For a country that was one of the last places in the world to be settled, New Zealand has a disastrous history of indigenous biodiversity loss. The main reason for this, in the first few centuries of human settlement, was the destruction of native forests and their replacement with grasslands. Later, intensive human occupation resulted in the conversion of forests to farmland, and extensive modification of many other ecosystems including wetlands, dunes and rivers.
Although there is greater recognition of the importance of New Zealand’s biodiversity, and there have been localised successes in protecting it, overall biodiversity decline has not been reversed. Pressures currently come from two key threats: habitat destruction and invasive species. In addition, climate change is now emerging as a threat to the restoration and protection of indigenous biodiversity.
Last updated at 1:55PM on February 25, 2015