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Radical environmental classification system

Strong interest in radically different environmental classification system

A nationwide series of workshops on the use of an award-winning environmental classification system is gaining strong interest from local government, conservation organisations, and private business.

LENZ (Land Environments of New Zealand) is a unique new system developed by Landcare Research and funded by the Ministry for the Environment. Its main purpose is to assist conservation and resource management across a range of scales, from national to local. LENZ identifies environments that share similar climate, soil and landforms; regardless of where in the country they occur. LENZ can help people answer such questions as: where do New Zealand’s most threatened environments occur? Where might a threatened plant species occur? What areas might be suitable for different crop species?

Landcare Research is hosting the workshops, along with TFBIS (Terrestrial and Freshwater Biodiversity Information System), a government programme that supports conservation efforts by increasing awareness of and access to data. Workshops have already been held in the South Island and lower North Island, and are now being held throughout the rest of the North Island, with a different guest speaker at each workshop.

Landcare Research ecologist and LENZ project leader Dr Daniel Rutledge says the workshops have attracted strong interest from Department of Conservation and regional and district council staff, farmers, and university and secondary school staff.

“DOC staff around the country have been using and evaluating LENZ for nearly a year now, and have given excellent guest presentations at the workshops held so far. In addition, MfE has recently provided the LENZ data to all regional and district councils, as well as the New Zealand Ecological Restoration Network (NZERN) and the New Zealand Landcare Trust. Therefore we expect that these different parties will have a wide variety of uses for and questions about LENZ.

“The workshops are aimed at helping people understand the uses and limitations of LENZ. And from our perspective, the workshops help us gain insights into aspects of LENZ that need future research and development. We owe a particular debt of gratitude to the TFBIS Programme, whose co-funding enabled us to expand the workshop schedule to visit each region and increase accessibility for users throughout New Zealand.”

The LENZ system consists of two data CDs: one for the LENZ classification and one for the underlying data. There are also two companion books: a full-colour guide with background information, maps, and two posters, and a technical guide.

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

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