Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Conditions and Trends

Following the release of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in 2005 which reported on the condition of 34 ecosystem services worldwide, several sub-global assessments of service were also completed. The sub-global assessments were conducted and authored by researchers local to the areas chosen and included only key ecosystems in each area. Although the assessments covered a wide variety of habitats across a broad range of geographic locations, New Zealand was absent.

In this, the first objective of the programme, we will develop methods to assess and map ES on a national scale providing a present-day baseline. The baseline will be compared with historical information on ecosystems to provide long- and short-term trends. The baseline and trends will be used in the Future Scenarios objective to explore different future trajectories for ES, and will also provide necessary information for Policy and Planning to design policy frameworks and develop a National Statement on ES. 

Conditions and Trends has 3 goals:

  1. Characterising and classifying ecosystem services:

    Working with our key stakeholders we will characterise and classify ES and the associated ecosystems from which they derive. Using the MEA framework as a starting point, we will characterise the possible range of ES within New Zealand using a combination of knowledge sources including scientific databases, data held in regional and local government, mautauranga Māori, national statistics and local knowledge. From that review we will develop a standard classification of ES within New Zealand for use by a wide range of end-users for research, policy, and management.

  1. Measures for ecosystem services:

    We will develop methods to measure ES nationally using a 3-tiered approach (see Table 1 below):

    Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3
    Genetic resources (p) Freshwater (p) Food (p)
    Biochemical, medicines (p) Air qual. maintenance (r) Fibre & fuel (p)
    Human disease regulation (r) Climate regulation (r) Water regulation (irrigation) (r)
    Pollination (r) Soil formation (s) Erosion control (r)
    Aesthetic values (c) Habitat provision (s) Biological control (r)
    Turangawaewae (c) Production of oxygen (s) Natural hazard regulation (r)
    Recreation & tourism (c)   Water purification (r)
    Cultural heritage (c)   Waste treatment (r)
        Nutrient & water cycling (s)
        Primary production (s)

    Table 1: Proposed ES and evaluation tier. There are 4 types of ES: (p) - provisioning, (r) - regulating, (c) - cultural, and (s) - supporting.

    • Tier 1 ES have sufficient information for qualitative assessment only
    • Tier 2 ES have sufficient information to develop measures based on general relationships between an ES and an ecosystem type (i.e. the ES is determined entirely by the ecosystem type and will not vary spatially or temporally within)
    • Tier 3 ES have sufficient information to develop measures that link particular ES to particular ecosystem components.

    We will use nationally applicable and empirically validated models for Tier 3 ES (e.g., IDEAS, Regional futures, DNDC, OVERSEER®, IRAP, CLUES, WATYIELD, SedNet, Shetran, NZEEM®, and HEL). Bio-physical modelling will permit the consideration of time lags and thresholds in Tier 3 ES. We will work with stakeholders to decide which ES to carry forward for Tier 2 or Tier 3 analysis. We will use value functions to produce single direct measures of ES from multiple indicators.

  1. Historic trends of ecosystem services

    We will map historic trends for selected ES by evaluating conditions for at least two additional time periods: 1) pre-human (i.e. before the arrival of Māori, and as close to ‘pristine’ as can be envisaged), and 2) 1990 (the period with most data and also the reference year for UNFCC reporting).
    Data will be sourced from a range of existing datasets including Land Environments of New Zealand (LENZ), AgriBase, Land Cover Database (LCDB), EcoSat, WONI wetlands, Land Use New Zealand, and the Land Use Change and Carbon Analysis System (LUCAS).