Freshwater is New Zealand’s greatest asset and is a taonga of paramount importance. It is valued for its contribution to biodiversity, recreation, the economy and overall well - being of New Zealanders. New Zealand’s rivers, lakes, wetlands and groundwater support a unique array of flora and fauna. They are also a vital element of whakapapa and provide valuable resources such as mahinga kai, and underpin the country’s ever - growing tourism industry. Reinforcing this importance, New Zealanders consider water quality to be the most important environmental challenge facing New Zealand. This Conservation Science Statement uses the latest scientific understanding of New Zealand’s unique freshwater ecosystems to propose approaches to policy and management that safeguard these resources for future generations. We identify six clear priorities to protect New Zealand’s freshwater ecosystems: 1. address the cumulative impacts of land use change and resulting diffuse pollution of rivers and streams ; 2. build capacity to sustainably manage freshwater ecosystems at the regional level ; 3. support whole farm environmental management to control water quality impacts ; 4. develop a management agenda for wetlands and groundwater ecosystems ; 5. enhance the understanding of the ecological requirements to sustain native fish habitat through Department of Conservation, the Land and Water Forum site and other agencies and; 6. identify impacts of increased allocation on surface and ground water ecosystems and synergies with declining water quality.
Society for Conservation Biology, 2014, 1 (1), pp. 1 - 10 (10)