The way we have used our land has fundamentally shaped our nation. From earliest times, settlers in New Zealand have worked the land to produce food and fibre (for example, wool and flax), raise animals and build dwellings. Today, New Zealanders value land for its scenic, recreational, historical and cultural significance.
Four national environmental indicators are used to report regularly on land and soils in New Zealand, as follows:
Did you know?
- Land underpins New Zealand’s top two export earners: tourism and primary production.
- About 24 per cent of New Zealand’s original native forest remains today – however, nearly all lowland areas have been cleared of forest for human uses, including agriculture, horticulture, and urban development.
- New Zealand soils are naturally acidic with low levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulphur. Consequently, soils used to grow crops and pasture derived from European agriculture need to be developed and maintained with nitrogen-fixing plants (such as clover), fertilisers and, often, lime to sustain high-yield plant growth.
- 'Versatile soils' cover about 10 per cent of New Zealand’s total land area. Versatile soils are fertile, generally well-drained, and found on slopes of less than 12 degrees.
Limitations of the environmental indicators for land.
Last updated: December 2007