Biodiversity is short for “biological diversity”. It describes the variety and diversity of all life on land, in fresh water and in the sea, including the places or ecosystems where they live and the genes they contain. When we talk about biodiversity we generally think about the individual birds, plants, fish, insects and other species that are special to New Zealand – our indigenous biodiversity. There are many examples, such as kiwi, tui, inanga (whitebait), weta, and ti kouka (cabbage tree).
We also think of our distinctive ecosystems (the interacting system of the living species and non-living parts such as air, nutrients and water) such as forests, sand dunes and lakes.
To find out more about biodiversity, see What is biodiversity? on the New Zealand biodiversity website.
Our biodiversity provide the life supporting systems that enable all organisms, including humans to survive. The important resources and services, such as clean air and water, fertile soils, pollution and flood control provided by biodiversity underpins our economic and social sustainability. It also provides a stream of products such as timber, fuel, food and medicines. Other benefits include recreation, aesthetic, scientific, education and cultural values and a sense of identity.
Climate change will inevitably impact on biodiversity. A number of biological changes have already been observed globally including shifts in the range of some species, and earlier timing of leaf-unfolding, bird migration and egg-laying in some species. Other effects may include strong impacts as extreme weather events become more frequent and severe; changes to ecosystem productivity, and disruption of freshwater ecosystems due to warmer water and lower flows in rivers and streams. The most serious threats to biodiversity in New Zealand may arise from the establishment and expansion of invasive pests and weeds under climate change. Biodiversity can also help provide stability and resilience as we adapt to the fluctuations and disturbances brought about by climate change.
Our farming, forestry and horticulture depend on the resources and services provided by biological systems. Protecting the natural resources and the introduced species on which these industries are based, from pests, weeds and diseases is important to New Zealand.
On the New Zealand biodiversity website, you can learn about:
On this website you can access information about initiatives being undertaken to protect New Zealand's biodiversity including the Government's proposed National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity.
Last updated: 26 June 2009