The NRC is one of Northland's primary environmental guardians and is one of the key agencies involved in implementing the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy in Northland. Over the last 160 years of European settlement, 95% of forest and wetland habitat has been lost in the region. However, Northland still has the third highest number of acutely threatened species of all regions in the country. NRC is working with other organisations, landowners and communities to conserve and enhance biodiversity values in Northland.

A report commissioned by NRC found that 37% of Northland is still under indigenous vegetation cover. Of this, 20% is classified as National Priority 1 habitat (acutely or chronically threatened). Only 5.9% of this habitat receives legal protection. There are no minimum standards of care for protected sites, i.e., no prescribed management to maintain or enhance their biodiversity values.

During 2007-08, $520,000 was allocated through the NRC Environment Fund to 150 projects aimed at conserving or enhancing natural values in Northland. A project was also launched to map and assess all wetland habitats in the region and record these details in a central database. Twenty of the highest value wetlands have been selected from this project for ongoing monitoring to record change over time.