Freshwater classification system

This page provides information about the River Environment Classification.

River Environment Classification

The New Zealand River Environment Classification (or REC for short) maps rivers that have a similar character across New Zealand’s landscape. Individual river sections are mapped according to physical factors such as climate, source of flow for the river water, topography, and geology, and catchment land cover eg, forest, pasture or urban. Sections of river that have similar ecological characteristics can then be grouped together, no matter where they are.

This information is mapped for New Zealand's entire river network – over 425,000 kilometres of river. Different types of rivers respond differently to the pressures placed on them – the REC can be used to highlight the most appropriate management tools and approaches to reduce these pressures for each river type.

Information from the classification is used to develop policy, assess the environment, and report on the quality of river water.

Where you can get the River Environment Classification

The REC river network, watersheds and catchment data layers can be downloaded from the MfE Data Service. The data was re-released in 2010 under the NZGOAL framework [ICT website].

You can download a copy of the 2010 REC User Guide [PDF 5.00 MB] and the supplementary river names spreadsheet [EXCEL 1.8 KB] that can be joined to the REC network table of attributes.

Example: River Environment Classification (REC) for Canterbury region

Map showing River Environment Classification (REC) for Canterbury region