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Award-winning classification system now an Atlas

Award-winning classification system published as full colour atlas

Where are New Zealand’s most threatened ecosystems? Can a Martinborough vineyard grow the same grapes as Bordeaux? Where could New Zealand’s native mistletoe live and flourish? How far could the deadly southern saltmarsh mosquito spread? These and many more questions can be answered using a new resource released with the support of Environment Minister Marian Hobbs today.

Land Environments of New Zealand (LENZ) is a classification of environments mapped across New Zealand’s landscape – a classification that is nationally consistent, works at a range of scales and comes complete with information about climate, soils and landforms.

"The resource will be invaluable to those involved in the conservation and restoration of native ecosystems, resource management, environmental risk management and biosecurity, and productive land uses such as agriculture and forestry," Marian Hobbs said.

"People who work in conservation, farming, forestry, horticulture, public health and local government resource management can all use this system.”

The Ministry for Environment has produced the resource in partnership with Landcare Research as part of its Environmental Performance Indicators Programme. The resource is made up of three components:

A full colour atlas for general use, that presents Levels I and II of the classification and describes the what, where, when, who and how of the system. It also includes six example case studies for conservation and resource management applications. David Bateman Ltd published the atlas, which is available from bookstores. A technical manual that describes Levels II, II and IV of the classification, describes how the classification was constructed, and gives guidelines for its use. The manual is available from Ministry for the Environment. Two CDs with detailed information: one contains the classification data layers, the other the underlying climate, soils and landform variables that make up the system.

The system identifies similar environments using 15 different climate, landform and soil variables – including temperature, solar radiation, rainfall, soil fertility, drainage and slope. It maps areas of land that have similar environmental conditions regardless of where they occur in New Zealand. It allows users to see where similar ecosystems occur and use the data to make sound environmental management decisions.

"Internationally, Land Environments of New Zealand is a first and represents a significant achievement for the Ministry for the Environment and Landcare Research," Marian Hobbs said.

The international significance of LENZ was recognised at the 22nd annual Environmental Science Research Institute (ESRI) conference 2002, held in San Diego, where it won two major awards.

"The challenge for conservation and resource managers is to use this resource with an open mind and explore the range of applications beyond the Ministry’s environmental reporting needs," Marian Hobbs said.

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