Biological diversity (commonly known as “biodiversity”) is the variability in living organisms and of ecosystems. Coastal marine biodiversity is therefore the diversity of organisms and ecosystems in the coastal marine environment.
Biodiversity is important for the healthy functioning of ecosystems, and for ecosystem productivity. Every organism plays a role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem, so an ecosystem with high biodiversity is generally more resilient to change. Protecting or maintaining biodiversity therefore helps to protect the health of our ecosystems. Biodiversity is also important for the provision of ecosystem services, which are the benefits that mankind receives or values from natural habitats. For marine ecosystems these include food provision, water filtration, nutrient regulation and storm protection.
Waikato Regional Council recognises that good decision-making is underpinned by good scientific information. Particularly important, in relation to marine biodiversity, is information on species and/or habitats present, and their vulnerability/sensitivity to activities and uses. We provide monitoring, targeted investigations and reporting of the region's coastal marine area to assess the state of, and trends in, biodiversity. This work includes monitoring changes in indicator species such as shellfish and other sediment-dwelling organisms, and in coastal vegetation (e.g. mangroves, seagrass and invasive weeds). We also focus on mapping and monitoring of habitats in the coastal marine area and investigate ways to restore and improve habitats and biodiversity.