National Policy Documents

New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy

The Biodiversity Strategy was adopted by the government in 2000 in order to help meet New Zealand’s international commitments under the Convention on Biologicla Diversity. It was prepared in response to the alarming state of the country’s indigenous biodiversity, which had been highlighted in the 1997 State of the Environment Report. This document is the principal instrument for implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity at a national level (article 6).

The Biodiversity Strategy is intended to provide an overall framework for national action to redress the biodiversity crisis. It includes an ambitious goal which is to ‘halt the decline in New Zealand’s Biodiversity’. This is described more fully as follows: ‘maintain and restore the full range of remaining natural habitats and ecosystems to a healthy functioning state, enhance critically scarce  habitats, and sustain the more modified ecosystems in production and urban environments’ and ‘maintain and restore viable populations of all indigenous species across their natural range and maintain their genetic diversity’.

Dunelands, and the native sand binding grasses that are a key part of this habitat, are on of the most modified natural ecosystems in New Zealands (Credit: Raewyn Peart)

The Biodiversity Strategy includes action plans for ten biodiversity themes including biodiversity on land, coastal and marine biodiversity, freshwater biodiversity and Māori and biodiversity. Each of these action plans contains a set of objectives and actions required to achieve the overall goals, as well as identification of key players involved in their implementation. The Biodiversity Strategy then identifies nine strategic priorities to focus action:

  • Better governance
  • Enhance community participation and learning
  • Become smarter biodiversity managers
  • Strengthen partnerships with Māori
  • Sustain indigenous biodiversity in privately managed areas and in freshwater environments
  • Enhance protected areas and prospects for threatened species
  • Manage the marine environment to sustain biodiversity
  • Identify and manage biosecurity risks to indigenous biodiversity
  • Maintain the genetic resources of our important introduced species

Although the Biodiversity Strategy is now more than a decade old, and has no statutory weight, it still contains aspirations and objectives of relevance and identifies many actions which need to be taken if biodiversity decline in New Zealand is to be reversed. In 2005, the Biodiversity Strategy was independently reviewed, including an examination of the progress that has been made across all the themes and the achievements from the programmes funded by the 2000 Biodiversity Package. 2511

A review of the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy, led by the Department of Conservation, is currently underway. 2512

Statement of National Priorities for Protecting Rare and Threatened Biodiversity on Private Land

For some years the Ministry for the Environment and Department of Conservation have been developing proposals for a national policy statement on indigenous biodiversity under the RMA. Although these efforts have yet to result in a national policy statement, in 2007 non-statutory guidance was released in the form of a ‘Statement of National Priorities for Protecting Rare and Threatened Biodiversity on Private Land’. The full text of the statement can be accessed here. The statement sets out four national priorities for the protection of biodiversity on private land and provides additional information on how the vegetation, ecosystem and habitat types can be identified. The national priorities are:

National Priority 1: To protect indigenous vegetation associated with land environments (defined by Land Environments of New Zealand at Level IV) that have 20 per cent or less remaining in indigenous cover.

National Priority 2: To protect indigenous vegetation associated with sand dunes and wetlands; ecosystem types that have become uncommon due to human activity.

National Priority 3: To protect indigenous vegetation associated with ‘originally rare’ terrestrial ecosystem types not already covered by priorities 1 and 2.

National Priority 4: To protect habitats of acutely and chronically threatened indigenous species.

  1. Green  W 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

  2. As at September 2014

Last updated at 1:55PM on February 25, 2015