Conservation in New Zealand is failing to halt an ongoing decline in biodiversity. Classical problems of ecosystem loss and fragmentation have largely been countered in some regions by reservation of 30% of total land area. Unsustainable harvesting of native biodiversity has stopped; indeed harvesting of terrestrial species is rare. In contrast, marine reserves do not cover even 1% of the managed area, and harvest of native species, some of it unsustainable, are a major industry. Introduced pests, especially mammals, are the overwhelming conservation problem. Legislation, management, and considerable public opinion is based on preservationist ideals that demand the sanctity of native land biodiversity. Considerable success in threatened species management, island eradications, and mainland control of pests is increasing opportunities for restoration. New legislation is increasingly built on concepts of sustainability and offers the opportunity for integrating conservation, use, and development. Realization of these opportunities requires greater understanding of the relative merits of preservation versus sustainability, the dynamics and costs of pest control, the need for ecosystem processes in addition to individual species, and the involvement of people, especially the rights of indigenous Maori. Understanding marine environments and linking attitudes to land and sea is also a challenge.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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