Threats to biodiversity
Indigenous biodiversity continues to decline nationally. Since the arrival of people in New Zealand, many indigenous plants and animals have become extinct and some now persist only in small numbers. Many of our native plants and animals are in a vulnerable position as they had no time to adapt to the sudden arrival of plants and animals from overseas which bring different stressors and problems. Many native plants and animals are still under attack or are outcompeted by exotic animals and weeds. Ecosystems and habitats are also lost or degraded through human resource use and development. All of these impacts reduce the resilience of our indigenous biodiversity.
The Wellington region reflects this national picture: Its biodiversity is severely depleted. For example, before human arrival around 98 per cent of the region was forested. Today, just 28 per cent survives – mostly on the hill country, while forest on the fertile lowland was cleared to make way for various land uses (see map of the region). The story is even worse for other ecosystems, for example, less than 3 per cent of the region’s original wetland areas remain.
The ecological, social, cultural, and economic importance of indigenous biodiversity to the Wellington region has been recognised for many years. However, biodiversity loss continues and many pressures on the remaining biodiversity are on-going. Today, many of our land-based native ecosystems cannot survive without active management.