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MfE reports on changes to NZ’s landscapes – Expert reaction

Posted in Expert Reactions

The extent to which we have changed our natural landscapes is highlighted in the latest instalment of the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ’s environmental reporting.

Our Lands 2018, released today, also indicates significant gaps in our knowledge about land use and the flow-on effects to soil.

The report and other materials are available on MfE’s website.

The Science Media Centre has asked experts to comment on the report.

David Fleming, Fellow, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, comments:

“The Our Land 2018 report just released by MfE and StatsNZ is a key document that will enable us to better understand where New Zealand stands in terms of challenges and pressures that our environment is facing. As highlighted in the summary video of the report, biodiversity in New Zealand is in danger. Soils and water streams are increasingly being menaced by human activity.

“In order to better confront these challenges, the country needs to build more and better data sources on land use activity, resources use and condition. Without consistent national integrated data sources, it will be very hard to track future environmental conditions and the effects of policies or programs intended to reduce human impact.

“One shocking example in New Zealand is the shocking lack of rural waste data. As pages 65-67 of the report explains, limited data on waste disposal impedes any assessment of the scale of the issue, let alone our ability to track any change. Better records and tracking of waste disposal is key to understand the risks that waterways, soil, air and towns face, especially given an expanding industry known for generating important volumes of non-natural waste such Dairy (the report links to data estimating that dairy farms in Canterbury produce, on average, 9 tonnes of waste per year, excluding animal remains). 

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