The Taranaki Regional Council and other agencies, community groups and individuals in the region work to protect and enhance biodiversity.
A Biodiversity Strategy was adopted by the Council in May 2008.
The word "biodiversity" describes the variety of biological life - plants, animals, fungi and even micro-organisms. It describes the diversity of ecosystems on land, in water and in the ocean.
It is a term that encapsulates the whole diversity on earth including the diversity within species, and between species, from their genetic diversity to the ecosystems they live in.
The Resource Management Act defines biological diversity as the variability among living organisms, and the ecological complexes of which they are a part, including diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.
The development of the Taranaki ring plain and coastal areas for farming has led to the reduction of indigenous habitats and the disproportionate loss of some types of terrestrial habitats such as wetlands, lowland forests and coastal environments.
On the Taranaki ring plain and the South Taranaki coastal terraces, remaining indigenous vegetation and wetlands are only small remnants of what they would have been historically. Consequently, the ring plain, and coastal areas towards South Taranaki now contain less than 10% of the original indigenous vegetation.
Remnant areas of indigenous vegetation are therefore highly important for biodiversity.
Many remnant bush or wetland areas are isolated and surrounded by highly modified environments such as farmland. Furthermore, many are of a size or shape that makes their long-term ecological viability uncertain unless ecological linkages with other areas can be maintained or enhanced.
Threats to freshwater biodiversity arise from habitat modification such as the drainage of wetlands or wet areas, or the channelising or piping of streams.
Structures in waterways impact on the ability of native fish to migrate through the stream, and so reduce the native fish diversity in the upper catchment. Introduced pests such as aquatic plants, fish or algae are also a significant threat to Taranaki’s freshwater biodiversity.
The bulk of the Taranaki Regional Council’s day-to-day work has always benefited biodiversity.
Protecting and enhancing biological diversity is a factor in:
The development of regional plans that set rules and conditions for use of resources.
The processing of consent applications.
The protection of regionally significant wetlands.
Undertaking control of pest animals and pest plants.
Assessing and removing barriers to fish passage.
The riparian and sustainable land management programmes.
The Council has also identified and catalogued more than 160 Key Native Ecosystems with high biodiversity values.
Official agencies, District Councils, iwi, land owners, industry, national organisations and local community groups are all involved in biodiversity work in Taranaki.
The Department of Conservation, Ministry of Fisheries, Minstry for the Environment and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry are among the official agencies involved. Big national organisations include Forest and Bird, Fish and Game, the QEII Trust, the Ornithological Society and the NZ Landcare Trust.
The NZ Herpetological Society is a smaller national organisation but importantly, it is based in Taranaki. The Environment Monitoring and Action Project (EMAP) has a Taranaki-Wanganui co-ordinator based in New Plymouth.
Taranaki is also lucky to have a good number of locally-based community groups dedicated to specific aspects of biodiversity. These include:
- East Taranaki Environment Trust, which has made a huge effort to protect around 3,000 hectares of kiwi habitat, benefiting not only our national bird but a wide range of other native fauna.
- Nga Motu Marine Reserve Society, which aims to establish a network of marine reserves in the region.
- Ngati Tara Oaonui Sandy Bay Society, which promotes and supports conservation activities in the Sandy Bay area at Oaonui. Their activies include fencing, pest control and putting up signs to protect NZ dotterels and other threatened bird species.
- Rapanui Grey-Faced Petrel Trust, which assists in the management, conservation and monitoring of the Rapanui grey-faced petrel colony, particularly management of the predator exclusion fence.
- Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust, which aims to eradicate all introduced mammal pests from the Rotokare Scenic Reserve, re-establishing the native ecosystem for educational purposes and also as a possible future haven for endangered native species.
- Taranaki Farm Shelter and Forestry Association, which promotes the planting of shelter and trees for shelter.
- Taranaki Kiwi Trust, which promotes the restoration and protection of sustainable kiwi populations in Taranaki. Its flagship project is in Egmont National Park where, in partnership with DOC and the BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust, a large predator trapping operation covers 6,500 hectares.
- Taranaki Tree Trust, which is dedicated to the preservation and development of the region's ecosystems and landscapes.
- Te Wera Aboretum Trust, which promotes, conserves, develops and preserves the exotic and native plant collection at Te Wera Aboretum.
See the navigation panel at top right to access a page of links to the websites of many of these organisations.
The Taranaki Regional Council adopted its Biodiversity Strategy in May 2008, giving it a useful new perspective from which to examine and plan its efforts to promote and enhance indigenous biodiversity.
As noted above, the bulk of the Council’s day-to-day work has always benefited biodiversity. But the new Strategy weaves the strands together and puts them into a wider context that also includes biodiversity work by other agencies and community groups.
The Strategy examines national and regional biodiversity goals and focuses the Council’s work into four priority areas:
Regionally significant sites – the 155 Key Native Ecosystems already identified by the Council.
Enhancing the biodiversity component of existing programmes.
Working with others in the community to assist with the overall co-ordination and facilitation of biodiversity work across the region.
Contributing to the management and development of systems for gathering and managing biodiversity data.
New biodiversity initiatives include developing and implementing Biodiversity Plans for privately owned Key Native Ecosystems, the development of this Biodiversity section of the Council website, and exploring the possibilities for presenting a wider range of biodiversity data on the website’s GIS section, Taranaki Regional Xplorer.
PDFs of each chapter of the Strategy can be accessed by clicking the links in the table below.