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Overview

We combined the information we have for the land, fresh water, and marine domains to show how a range of processes and human activities affect biodiversity.

Biological diversity, or ‘biodiversity’, is the variability among living organisms and the ecological systems of which they are a part. Biodiversity includes the diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems.

New Zealand has a high number of species found nowhere else in the world (referred to as ‘endemism’). Owing to New Zealand’s long history of isolation from other land masses, our endemic plants, animals, and fungi have developed associations with the species and environment around them. Our indigenous plants and animals also evolved without predatory or browsing mammals, making them especially vulnerable to introduced mammals and other species.

Since humans settled New Zealand 700-800 years ago, we have changed the environment to produce food, materials, energy, and other resources. Our economy and way of life are dependent on farming, forestry, and many other productive activities. However, many of our activities have also had an impact on our indigenous plants and animals, and their habitats:

  • our indigenous forests are reduced to about one-third of their pre-human extent
  • wetlands are reduced by about 90 percent; other ecosystems, such as active sand dunes, are also substantially reduced
  • many indigenous species face extinction, including 81 percent of bird species that breed in New Zealand (known as resident species), 72 percent of freshwater fish, 88 percent of reptile, 100 percent of frog, and 27 percent of our resident marine mammal species
  • the risk of extinction is increasing for some species – since 2005, the threat increased for 7 percent of our threatened freshwater, land, and marine species.