How to Avoid Harming New Zealand’s Various Native Plants and Animals

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New Zealand’s native biodiversity is unique and complex, and it is in decline and under threat. Individuals and businesses are often unsure of what they should or should not do to help maintain it. A new paper in the New Zealand Journal of Ecology sets out comprehensive and concise criteria to provide guidance on the most important biodiversity to be protected from further degradation.

Co-author Suzie Greenhalgh says, “We developed our criteria for the Biodiversity Collaborative Group (BCG) as part of their preparations for the National Policy Statement for Native Biodiversity (NPS-IB). effects on biodiversity should be avoided, and what effects could be corrected or mitigated, and why?”

“We have responded with a set of criteria that every person, business and organization can use to make smarter decisions about maintaining biodiversity. We have defined them as clearly and concisely as possible, based on the information and existing datasets where possible.”

Native biodiversity will inevitably continue to decline if more permanent losses occur. The criteria therefore focus on effects that are irreversible and cannot be fully and quickly corrected. The most widespread irreversible effects are those that reduce the extent or quality of remaining native ecosystems and species habitats, including heavily modified or regenerating ecosystems. The authors point out that multiple small local reductions collectively add up to major losses: “death by a thousand cuts”.

Since only a few, usually low-diversity and recently established, native ecosystems and habitats can realistically be restored, the authors suggest that one human generation (25 years) should be the maximum time for full restoration.

They also identify some effects that could be reversible, such as the replacement of individuals of certain populations of species under certain circumstances, and the elimination of certain young (ecosystems.

Lead author Susan Walker says, “NPS-IB’s project proposed to identify significant natural areas that have many benefits, but are likely to be a protracted process. In the meantime, native biodiversity continues to decline, and these criteria offer an important resource and starting point for those who want to do what is right for nature.That often means giving up.

Indigenous peoples and local communities are key to achieving biodiversity goals

More information:
Susan Walker et al, New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2021). DOI: 10.20417/nzjecol.45.26

Provided by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research

Quote: How to avoid harming New Zealand’s diverse native plants and animals (2021, July 6) retrieved February 21, 2022 from

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