Mapping coastal environmental values

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The New Zealand coast is a marine biodiversity hotspot, inhabited by an estimated 65 000 species, many of unique to New Zealand. Knowing what we have and where is crucial to protecting this wealth of biodiversity and the environmental services it delivers. A recent mapping project meets this need.

“Mapping environmental values is an important management tool for protecting New Zealand’s coastal ecosystems from threats, such as incursions of non-native species and oil spills. If we don’t know which areas hold fragile habitats or vulnerable and rare species, we can’t protect them.” says project leader Dr Jennifer Beaumont.

“Marine species and their associated ecosystems also deliver a wide range of environmental services we want to retain. These include providing the basic productivity that sustains considerable fishing, aquaculture and tourism industries.”

Environmental values describe various biological and habitat attributes, such as species richness and habitat type. NIWA scientists undertook an initial project for MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) to map the marine environmental values around the New Zealand coastline using a Geographic Information System.

We recently undertook a follow-up meta-analysis to summarise these extensive datasets. This enabled us to create summary maps from mean values across all attributes for each dataset. For instance, we used the mean rank of eight habitat datasets to map habitat diversity nationally.

Results from this meta-analysis will be used alongside similar maps of cultural, social, and economic values around the New Zealand coastline.

Contact: Dr Jennifer Beaumont

Further information

Mapping environmental values project

Beaumont J., Oliver, M., MacDiarmid, A., 2008. Mapping the values of New Zealand’s coastal waters. 1. Environmental values. Biosecurity New Zealand technical paper no 2008/16. 89pp. Supplementary information

Jennifer Beaumont, Roberta D’Archino, Alison MacDiarmid 2010. Mapping the values of New Zealand’s coastal waters. 4. A meta-analysis of environmental values. Biosecurity New Zealand Techinical Paper no. 2010/08 70pp.