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Implications of degrading ecosystems

The health and mauri of some of our freshwater environments, and the habitats and species they support, have declined because of multiple pressures from human activities. The changes to our fresh water are due to increased contaminants and sediment, altered water levels and flows, introduced invasive species, and the building of dams and other in-stream structures.

Habitat degradation and loss are some of the most pervasive threats to freshwater species, both internationally and in New Zealand (Weeks et al, 2016). Habitat degradation has resulted in a decline in freshwater species throughout the world (Dudgeon et al, 2006), and New Zealand is no exception. In addition, New Zealand is vulnerable to biodiversity loss, as many of our native species are endemic (found nowhere else in the world). Our tourism industry leverages on our reputation as a country with relatively unspoiled nature and unique fauna. Freshwater ecosystems also provide opportunities and resources for recreational activities such as fishing, and customary activities such as mahinga kai.