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About this report

Purpose of this report

Environment New Zealand 2007 uses a set of environmental indicators to report on key aspects of the New Zealand environment and to track how these aspects have changed over time.

This report will:

  • provide useable and constructive information to foster informed decision-making on matters that affect the environment and encourage appropriate management approaches
  • increase New Zealanders’ understanding about the state of, and pressures on, our environment
  • highlight the aspects of the environment that have come under particular pressure and those that require priority attention
  • motivate all New Zealanders to take action to protect and conserve the environment.

Environment New Zealand 2007 is intended to be informative and thought-provoking for both those New Zealanders responsible for environmental decision-making and general readers alike. While much of the content is technical in nature, the report aims to present information at a level that is relevant to all readers.

The report will play an important role in establishing regular and ongoing national-level reporting on the state of New Zealand’s environment. In part, its value is in setting a benchmark against which environmental outcomes can be monitored over time.

Differences between the 2007 and 1997 reports

Environment New Zealand 2007 is New Zealand’s second national state of the environment report. The 2007 report differs in several fundamental ways from the first report, The State of New Zealand’s Environment 1997.

The 1997 report drew largely on qualitative information to present a comprehensive, narrative picture of the state of New Zealand’s environment. It gathered together detailed information on the historical and contemporary pressures and influences on the New Zealand environment, and analysed this in-depth. Because the majority of the analysis in the 1997 report remains valid today, the 2007 report does not repeat it.

Since 1997, there have been significant advances in environmental monitoring, data collection, and data reporting at the national level. These advances allow Environment New Zealand 2007 to provide a more quantitative picture of key aspects of New Zealand’s environment than was possible in the 1997 report. To do so, the 2007 report introduces a core set of national-level environmental indicators and reports against them. Unlike the 1997 report, the 2007 report makes use of ecological classification systems to extrapolate and interpret this quantitative information across New Zealand (see chapter 1, ‘Environmental reporting’). In doing so, the 2007 report follows international best practice for state of the environment reporting at the national level.

Data used in this report

Environment New Zealand 2007 uses data collected by central and local government agencies, non-government organisations, and Crown Research Institutes at different time intervals. Consequently, much of the data does not neatly span the decade between 1997 and 2007. For each chapter, we have used the best data available to determine trends over time. This report is based on information and data available before the end of July 2007.

Some chapters in the 2007 report use data derived from national environmental monitoring networks. Readers should bear in mind that national-level monitoring in New Zealand is mostly carried out in locations known, or expected, to have poor environmental quality. This can mean that ‘healthy’ areas of the environment are not well represented in the data collected. For example, water quality in New Zealand’s national parks network is not regularly monitored and reported on because water quality in national parks is known from occasional monitoring to be generally very good. Where such data anomalies occur, these are noted in the relevant chapters.

Structure of this report

Environment New Zealand 2007 is divided into three sections.

Section one: Setting the context

Section one describes the environmental indicators and classification tools used in this report and provides an overview of New Zealand’s environment, population, and demography.

Section two: Pressures on the environment

Section two examines selected pressures on New Zealand’s environment, including household consumption, transport, energy, and waste.

Section three: State of the environment

Section three reports on the quality of New Zealand’s air, atmosphere, land, freshwater, oceans, and biodiversity.

Structure of chapters

The chapters in sections two and three are structured under six standard headings:

  • At a glance
  • Introduction
  • National environmental indicator(s)
  • Current pressures and trends or Current state and trends
  • Changes since the 1997 report
  • References.
  • The 2007 report uses ‘text boxes’ like this one to provide additional information to interested readers. Most text boxes are categorised as shown below.
  • Text boxes entitled ‘Government action on ...’ and ‘Local action on ...’ outline how central government, local government, iwi, and community groups take action to protect the environment.
  • More about ...’ text boxes provide more detailed information on technical matters discussed in the body of the chapter.