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More than 245 land owners in the Waikato region have taken legal steps to protect native vegetation on their land. Many of these areas are forest fragments, which are patches of native bush left over after land has been cleared for development. Legislation, regulation, incentives and community efforts are all ways in which our natural environment can be protected.

On this page: Legal protection, What is happening in our regionPhoto of  a North Island robin.

Many land owners want to make sure forest fragments on their land are healthy and will continue to be looked after by future owners of the property. There are many ways this can happen:

  • long-term legal protection
  • local authority regulation
  • community involvement.

This page has information on forest fragment protection, and what people in the Waikato Region are doing to protect our patches of native bush.

Legal protection

Legal protection measures include the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust Open Space Covenants, Nature Heritage Fund, Nga Whenua Rahui (for land inMaori title) and the New Zealand Native Forest Restoration Trust. Some district councils also offer protective covenants, often in return for extra subdivision rights.

In this region, over 14,000 ha of native vegetation has been protected through Queen Elizabeth II National Trust covenants. Sites with a covenant on them remain legally protected even after the land they are on is sold to someone else.

Regulation is another way of making sure our natural areas are managed properly. In the Waikato region, resource consents may be required from the Regional Council or local council to clear areas of native vegetation The Ministry of Primary Industry limits timber harvesting in native forests to sustainable levels, and removal on a small scale for personal use.

Find out more about trusts and organisations that may be able to help you protect your forest fragments.

What is happening in our region

Individuals, community groups, businesses, research agencies and local authorities are working together to restore forest fragments in the Waikato region.

  • Private landowners and iwi have protected over 29,000 hectares of native forest and regenerating scrub through Queen Elizabeth II National Trust or Nga Whenua Rahui covenants. Many of these areas are forest fragments.
  • Many local community groups are working together to restore small forest patches in reserves. You can find out more on the Ripple Effect or Nature Watch websites.
  • Care groups in the region are planting riparian areas with native plants. These planted areas can provide native animals with alternative food sources and access ways between natural fragments.
  • Barrett’s Bush, a small kahikatea remnant southwest of Hamilton, is being restored by a dedicated group of friends and enthusiastic horticulture students from Fraser High School. The bush has been re-fenced, privet has been cleared, and a wind-resistant barrier of natives has been planted round the edges.
  • The National Wetland Trust has eradicated mammalian pests and many weeds from a small kahikatea fragment at Lake Rotopiko, and installed an interactive discovery trail for visitors to learn about forests and wetlands.
  • Gullies within Hamilton City contain important habitat fragments. Hamilton City Council has produced a draft Gully Management Plan and a Gully Restoration Booklet to help city residents enhance biodiversity in their gullies.
  • Project Kahikatea is a multi-year programme run by the Department of Conservation, Waikato Regional Council, NZ Landcare Trust and the NZ Farm Forestry Association. It aims to work with landowners to improve the long-term survival of kahikatea stands in the Waikato lowlands. The project received a funding boost from the Waikato River Clean-up Trust in 2016.

See our tips on encouraging native plants and animals in fragments, and order a free set of Waikato Regional Council's forest fragment factsheets.

Learn more about managing and restoring forest fragments, and find out about how two Waikato families, hapu and community groups are protecting fragments on their land.