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Nine top environmental issues facing New Zealand

New report signals nine top environmental issues facing New Zealand – Media release

18 April 2019

A new report shows the way we live and how we make a living are having a serious impact on our environment.

Jointly produced by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ, Environment Aotearoa 2019 outlines nine priority issues in need of attention.

“This report provides a health check on our environment and shows it’s under pressure in many places – in our towns and cities, and rivers and oceans,” Secretary for the Environment Vicky Robertson said.

“If we want to protect the things we value, now and for future generations, we need to focus our attention on the choices we make from here on.”

Environment Aotearoa 2019 is the latest in the environmental reporting series that covers the environmental domains – air, atmosphere and climate, fresh water, land, and marine.

“The strength of our environmental reporting system is putting robust, independent, rigorously checked information into the hands of decision-makers – from here we can make informed decisions on what happens next,” Government Statistician Liz MacPherson said.

Ms Robertson said it had taken generations to get to this point and issues won’t be fixed overnight.

“A lot of good work is being done to protect and restore our environment, on our farms, in businesses and homes, and across central and local government, and more is needed.

“The choices we have to make to respond to the issues raised are not always straightforward. The economy has been built on our environment, our population continues to grow, and climate change is amplifying many current pressures. Understanding the issues means we can focus our efforts in the places where we can make the biggest difference,” Ms Robertson said.

Ms MacPherson said the report also points out how critical it is that we continue to build and expand our knowledge of our environment.

“We have considerable knowledge in some areas. Understanding our environment as a whole – as a system – is a much bigger challenge. We need to align, coordinate, and leverage efforts across knowledge and reporting systems, so we are better equipped to understand the effects of our actions,” Ms MacPherson said.

The report identifies nine priority issues:
• our native plants, animals, and ecosystems are under threat
• changes to the vegetation on our land are degrading the soil and water
• urban growth is reducing versatile land and native biodiversity
• our waterways are polluted in farming areas
• our environment is polluted in urban areas
• taking water changes flows, which affect our freshwater ecosystems
• the way we fish is affecting the health of our ocean environment
• New Zealand has high greenhouse gas emissions per person
• climate change is already affecting Aotearoa New Zealand.

Under the terms of the Environmental Reporting Act 2015, Environment Aotearoa 2019 was prepared independently of government by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ.

View the report and the indicators for Environment Aotearoa 2019.


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