Addressing New Zealand's Biodiversity Challenge

Cover page - Addressing New Zealand's Biodiversity Challenge.

Our native flora and fauna is a Taonga that does much to define us as a nation and the time is right to tackle the big questions around its future management. Good progress is being made in some areas, aided by effective new technology and greater
public, corporate and philanthropic attention to and investment in the environment. But business as usual will not be good enough if we are to maintain our unique indigenous biodiversity.

It is under threat, and we are losing ground in many cases. We have considered how we could better manage our indigenous biodiversity, with a particular focus on the role and work of regional councils.

Biodiversity thinkpiece summary - Five recommendations for change (PDF, 644KB)

Addressing New Zealand's Biodiversity Challenge - A Regional Council thinkpiece (PDF, 6.5MB)

What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity means the variability between living organisms. We are one of the organisations whose job it is to maintain and protect our native biodiversity.

Our biodiversity is special; we want Northlanders to recognise, take pride in and assist in looking after it. It would be great to stop the increase in the number of threatened plants or animals.

We know our sharpest tool is local communities and biodiversity is such a local issue, we know our sharpest tool is local communities. We get involved by:

  • Funding projects through our Environment Fund and biosecurity funds;
  • Working with other funders and agencies who look after biodiversity;
  • Provide education through on-site advice, publications and workshops; and
  • Linking projects and people.


Northland has more than 400 dune lakes, found within old sand dune systems mostly on the west coast. Dune lakes are one of the rarest and most threatened aquatic habitats in the world. The lakes are grouped on the Aupōuri, Karikari and Poutō peninsulas, as well as the Kai Iwi group north of Dargaville. They are often dynamic, with fluctuating water levels and shorelines that are frequently changed by shifting sand dunes.

Find out more about our freshwater lakes and watch the "Hidden Gems" 3 part video series


The term ‘wetland’ covers habitats where the land is covered in, or saturated by, water for at least some of the time.

Wetlands occur in areas where surface water collects or where underground water seeps through to the surface. There are many different kinds of wetland, including swamps, bogs, marshes, gumlands, saltmarshes, mangroves and some river, lake and stream edges.

Find out about the different types of wetlands we have in Northland and why they are important

Bring back natives

Bringing back our native plants and animals helps to restore our biodiversity.

Baby skink on a hand. Biodiversity is the combination of all living things in a place. It includes birds and insects, microbes, fungi and plants, people and their pets, and even farm animals.

Because many new species have been introduced (such as possums and wild ginger), the native birds and plants that make our region so special are becoming rarer. This is known as biodiversity loss.

Everyone can do something to help protect our native biodiversity, whether it be as simple as keeping your cat indoors during the day or planting natives and trapping pests.

Actions you can take

Control pest animals

Possums chomp their way through thousands of tonnes of native forest and also eat birds' eggs and insects.  Rats and mice are big predators of native wildlife and the food they eat.  Where pest animal numbers are reduced by using traps or poison, bird numbers soon recover and the health of our forests improves.

Find out more: Pest Control Hub

Plant natives

Native plants provide homes and food for our birds, lizards and insects.  Some native plants, like kowhai, flower at the time native birds, like tui, need extra energy for their breeding season. That's why you see tui drinking the nectar during spring.

Find out more:  Download a copy of our Northland native plant guide from our publications section

Remove pest plants

There are 35,000 introduced plant species in New Zealand, but only 2,000 native plant species.  We can all do our bit to give our native plants a better chance of survival by removing pest plants and weeds.

Find out more: Pest Control Hub

Restore wetlands and streamsides

Wetlands provide a habitat for native plants and animals and can also make your property more attractive and improve your water quality.  Fencing and planting your streamsides, also known as riparian margins, can also have substantial benefits for you and the environment.

Find out more: Download our Wetland Restoration and Clean Streams Guide from our publications section


Flax in flower.Flax can provide food for birds like the bellbird, silvereye and tui.