Since 2014, Waikato Regional Council has analysed the extent of indigenous vegetation (native bush) on legally protected land in the region. We also analyse protection of the region's National Priority 1 Environments (external link) , and calculate the indigenous coverage of our unprotected areas.
Legally protected areas are important conservation places that have been specially set aside as habitat for native animals, plants and micro organisms. In New Zealand these areas can be on both publicly and privately owned land, and include:
Monitoring these areas gives us valuable information on how much protection we are giving to our region's unique biodiversity is, and whether those protections are working. We can see how people and land management practices impact on those areas, and assess the status or trends of protection of indigenous cover over time.
In addition, trends in the distribution of coverage of protected areas contribute to regional, nation and global data management of protected areas. This includes the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Protected Areas.
Indigenous land cover includes land with native vegetation as well as naturally occurring non-vegetative covers such as alpine gravel and rock. It does not include water bodies.
Most of the Waikato region's land area is in non-indigenous cover.
As of March 2014, only 28 per cent (674,294.5 hectares) of the region's land area has indigenous cover. Seventeen per cent of this area (399,459.2 ha) is legally protected for conservation and biodiversity protection purposes.
Most of the region's indigenous coverage is on legally protected land. This accounts for 399,459.2 ha (59 per cent).
Unprotected or unknown status land accounted for 274,835.2 ha (41 per cent).
The area of protected and unprotected land varies across types of indigenous land cover. These land cover types are grouped according to LCDB2 classes (external link) .
The ‘Bare or lightly-vegetated surfaces’ group contains the highest protected areas (82.9 per cent) and also the lowest unprotected areas (11.2 per cent). The ‘Scrub and shrubland’ group contains the lowest protected areas (36.8 per cent) and the highest unprotected areas (53.1 per cent).
320,443.6 ha (93 per cent) of the region's legally protected areas are on public land, and 24,307.87 ha (7 per cent) are on private land.
Department of Conservation (DOC) land accounted for 297,157 ha (74 per cent) of public land.
In private land, QEII accounted for 10,770.3 ha (3 per cent), and Ngā Whenua Rāhui accounted for 13,537.56 ha, (3 per cent).
Other protected areas accounted for 23,285.87 ha (6 per cent), and overlapping protected areas accounted for 54,594.95 ha (14 per cent).
As of March 2014, the total area of protected priority threatened environments was 17,781.47 ha. Acutely Threatened environments accounted for 15,572.46 ha and Chronically Threatened environments accounted for 2,209.01 ha.
The total percentage of National Priority 1 Environments which are protected vary across the region's districts.
The protected areas of indigenous cover are mainly confined to montane and upland areas, with continuous large areas covered. The protected areas are small and scattered in the low-land areas.
Updates will happen as new (region-wide) vegetation/cover spatial layers become available. It is estimated that this will be updated every 2-5 years.
Terrestrial and wetland ecologist - Science and Strategy Directorate
Last updated July 2014