Environment Aotearoa 2019 provides an overview of the state of our environment. Using five broad themes the report presents nine priority environmental issues. Each issue includes information about why it matters, what has changed, and the consequences.
Theme 1: Our ecosystems and biodiversity
Issue 1: Our native plants, animals, and ecosystems are under threat
Theme 2: How we use our land
Issue 2: Changes to the vegetation on our land are degrading the soil and water
Issue 3: Urban growth is reducing versatile land and native biodiversity
Theme 3: Pollution from our activities
Issue 4: Our waterways are polluted in farming areas
Issue 5: Our environment is polluted in urban areas
Theme 4: How we use our freshwater and marine resources
Issue 6: Taking water changes flows which affects our freshwater ecosystems
Issue 7: The way we fish is affecting the health of our ocean environment
Theme 5: Our changing climate
Issue 8: New Zealand has high greenhouse gas emissions per person
Issue 9: Climate change is already affecting Aotearoa New Zealand
Prioritising the issues
There are many environmental issues in our country. We used the four criteria below to help describe the significance and urgency of different issues, and identify those that matter most:
- Spatial extent and scale: how much of New Zealand is affected by the issue?
- Magnitude of change: is the issue increasing in scale and/or distribution, or accelerating?
- Irreversibility and lasting effects of change: how hard is it to fix?
- Scale of effect on culture, recreation, health, and economy: how much does it affect the things we value?
An independent panel of scientists verified the selection process. Māori researchers and practitioners also considered the relevance of the issues to cultural values.
Senior science team
A team of internationally recognised scientists formed a senior science team who provided guidance throughout the report scoping, writing, review and publication process.
- Dr. Alison Collins, Departmental Science Advisor – Ministry for the Environment – Manatū Mō Te Taiao
- Dr. Alison MacDiarmid, Regional Manager Wellington – NIWA – Taihoro Nukurangi.
- Dr. Anne-Gaelle Ausseil, Researcher – Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research
- Dr. Clive Howard-Williams, Emeritus Scientist – NIWA Taihoro Nukurangi
- Dr. Phil Lyver, Kairangahau Māori – Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research
The data used in Environment Aotearoa 2019 is taken from the latest environmental reports produced by MfE and Stats NZ. Environment Aotearoa 2019 draws on 60 environmental indicators. One indicator is used for the first time here – nitrogen and phosphorus in fertilisers, as a measure of the pressure placed on waterways. seventeen indicators have been updated since they were last used in a report.
Te ao Māori focus
Te ao Māori, a Māori world view, has an important place in environmental reporting in New Zealand. It respects the unique connection that tangata whenua have with the land and helps us see ourselves as a part of, not apart from, the environment. Te ao Māori has been included in the report whenever possible.
Understanding our environment
To ensure the health of our environment, we need to be able to make good decisions, based on robust data, scientific evidence and adequate knowledge.
Environment Aotearoa 2019 also highlights data gaps and areas where our knowledge is incomplete. This includes trends over time and specifics about what and how certain activities are making things worse. Better information is also needed about what's happening at a regional level and how we can act to make the best use of our resources.