There are limitations in both the extent and quality of environmental data available to us for this report. We are working with data providers to reduce these limitations for future environmental reporting.
Some environmental monitoring networks are patchy, with some regions or sites well monitored but others less so. An example of this is air quality monitoring – especially of PM2.5 (particulate matter 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter) – where we have a clear picture of the environment in some parts of New Zealand, but not a nationally representative view of the country.
There is a bias for monitoring to be in places with poor environmental health. Often, these sites are more carefully monitored, which may lead to an inaccurately negative picture of the state of the overall environment. An example of this is water quality – for public health reasons, regional councils monitor swimming spots with a higher risk of exceeding recommended health limits.
Data from monitoring sites may not be consistent, as different sites can use different methods and technologies to take measurements. Therefore, data from these sites may not be comparable, and cannot always be combined to create a national picture.
Where an issue is relevant and worthy of inclusion in New Zealand’s Environmental Reporting Series, but data is of lower quality, we included it as supporting information in Environmental indicators Te taiao Aotearoa. In future, we plan to have better data available so that key supporting information can be improved to the quality of case studies or national indicators.
Incorporating the Māori perspective
An important objective of New Zealand’s Environmental Reporting Series is to reflect te ao Māori (the Māori world view). Environment Aotearoa 2015 contains only a limited amount of information from a Māori perspective. To add to this information, we will work with data providers to examine and measure aspects of the environment relevant to Māori. Examples of aspects to measure in future reports are the state of taonga species, mahinga kai (food-gathering sites), wāhi tapu, wāhi taonga, tikanga practices, customary use, land cover, and land-use change on Māori land.
Improving information on pressures and impacts
We have little information on environmental pressures and impacts – most of the information in Environment Aotearoa 2015 relates to the state of the environment. However, we intend to build the body of information we have on both pressures and impacts (eg economy, public health, culture and recreation, ecological integrity, and te ao Māori).
To better understand the link between the environment and the economy, in the future we may include internationally developed measures on the interactions between them.