Since 1840, three quarters of the native vegetation in the Waikato region has been cleared. Just over half of what is left is legally protected. Many natural areas require fencing to keep stock out, and regular pest and weed control. The Waikato Regional Council is working with the community to protect and enhance our remaining natural habitat.
Since 1840, people have drained wetlands and cleared native vegetation in the Waikato region for pasture, horticulture, pine plantation or urban areas.
Today, much of the land suitable for pastoral farming has been cleared. Most of the remaining vegetation covers steep hill country, which is prone to erosion and uneconomic to farm.
|Vegetation type||Current area (ha)||Current percent of region||Percent of total native vegetation||Loss since 1840 (ha)||Loss since 1840 (% of original area)|
|Total native vegetation||620,833||26||100||1,755,333||74|
Almost half of the remaining areas of native vegetation are not legally protected. Native timber milling is restricted to sustainable harvest under the Forest Amendment Act 1993. However, these unprotected areas may still be at risk of being cleared for pasture or pine plantation.
Drainage in nearby areas can affect wetlands even if the vegetation in the wetland is not cleared. Find out more about the effects of draining wetlands and of drainage on peatland areas.
Introduced pests have become established in all of our mainland forests and wetlands and threaten many of our native plants and animals. Almost all of the region’s native forests are at risk from possum damage. Rats, wild pigs, deer, rabbits, hedgehogs, and domestic pets or stock can also cause significant damage.
Often a range of animal and plant pests is found in the same area, with their combined effects causing a lot of damage:
Find out more about specific plant and animal pests.
Unlike most countries, New Zealand’s plants and animals evolved without any large grazing mammals around. Our soils and plants cannot cope with the trampling, grazing and waste from stock. When stock get into natural areas they can cause:
Around 270,000 ha of native vegetation in the Waikato Region (45 percent of the total) is protected as public conservation estate under the Conservation Act, Reserves Act or National Parks Act. The Department of Conservation purchases natural areas most in need of legal protection through the Forest Heritage Fund, or protects them on Maori land through Nga Whenua Rahui funding.
Many landowners have protected individual areas of native vegetation through Queen Elizabeth II National Trust(external link) covenants.
The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society(external link) and the New Zealand Native Forests Restoration Trust(external link) own and protect areas of native forest.
District and city councils control land use activities and also protect some natural areas as reserves. Some district plans contain:
Hundreds of individuals and groups are working voluntarily to protect native plants and animals. About 120 community groups are actively working in wetlands, forest, dunes, lakes and riversides in the Waikato Region. Activities range from small projects like planting stream banks to major undertakings, such as the plan to eliminate all introduced pest animals from Maungatautari Mountain(external link) and return native species that have been extinct on the New Zealand mainland for over 100 years.
Contact the Waikato Biodiversity Forum on 0800 BIODIV (0800 246 348) to find out about community biodiversity projects near you.
Find out more about protecting private land on the Department of Conservation(external link) website.