“Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, we will help. Only if we help, we shall be saved.”
APRIL 19, 2019
The New Zealand Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ have produced - Environment Aotearoa 2019, a report that provides an overview of the state of our environment in New Zealand. Whilst responses to the issues are not suggested the report helps to provide the information from which to ground the responses and action that is needed. - Action the Jane Goodall Institute New Zealand looks to enable for all New Zealanders.
Below is a summary of the report findings - And some ways we can all make a difference.
Environment Aotearoa 2019
Our land and sea are unique and very special, having evolved so distinctly and separately from the rest of the world. From the time our ancestors first stepped onto its shores, the land of the long white cloud has provided nourishment, protection, and resources to its inhabitants. People have become part of the environment and shaped it, modifying the land to grow food, building houses, and establishing settlements, roads, and infrastructure.
For Māori as tangata whenua – people of the land – that connection is indivisible from the health of Papatūānuku, the Earth Mother.
The changes we have made (and continue to make) to this rich landscape are having profound effects on our environment. Some parts of our environment are in good shape, others less so. How we go forward from here is up to us all.
Environment Aotearoa 2019 provides an overview of the state of our environment. Using five broad themes the report presents nine priority environmental issues. Each issue includes information about why it matters, what has changed, and the consequences.
Theme 1: Our ecosystems and biodiversity
Issue 1: Our unique native biodiversity is under significant pressure from introduced species, pollution, physical changes to our landscapes and coast, harvesting of wild species, and other factors. Almost 4,000 of our native species are currently threatened with or at risk of extinction.
Theme 2: How we use our land
Issue 2: Logging native forests, draining wetlands, and clearing land have degraded a range of benefits provided by native vegetation, accelerated our naturally high rates of soil loss, and affected our waterways.
Issue 3: Growth of urban centres has led to land fragmentation and threatens the limited supply of versatile land near Auckland and other regional centres and reducing native biodiversity.
Theme 3: Pollution from our activities
Issue 4: Waterways in farming areas are polluted by excess nutrients, pathogens, and sediment. This threatens our freshwater ecosystems and cultural values, and may make our water unsafe for drinking and recreation.
Issue 5: Some of our cities and towns have polluted air, land, and water. This comes from home heating, vehicle use, industry, and disposal of waste, wastewater, and stormwater. Pollution affects ecosystems, health, and use of nature.
Theme 4: How we use our freshwater and marine resources
Issue 6: Using freshwater for hydroelectric generation, irrigation, domestic, and other purposes changes the water flows in rivers and aquifers. This affects freshwater ecosystems and the ways we relate to and use our waterways.
Issue 7: Harvesting marine species affects the health of the marine environment and its social, cultural, and economic value to us. Fishing could change the relationship that future generations have with the sea and how they use its resources.
Theme 5: Our changing climate
Issue 8: Our per-person rate of greenhouse gas emissions is one of the highest for an industrialised country. Most of our emissions in 2016 came from livestock and road transport.
Issue 9: Changes to our climate are already being felt in our land, freshwater, and marine environments. We can expect further wide-ranging consequences for our culture, economy, infrastructure, coasts, and native species.
Understanding our environment
To ensure the health of our environment, we need to be able to make good decisions, based on robust data, scientific evidence and adequate knowledge.
Environment Aotearoa 2019 highlights data gaps and areas where our knowledge is incomplete. This includes trends over time and specifics about what and how certain activities are making things worse.
Taking opportunities to align our efforts would enable New Zealand to be better equipped to understand the effect our actions are having on the environment, as well as deciding what our response to that understanding should be.
Read the full Environment Aotearoa 2019 report here.
Make A Difference
It is clear that New Zealand is facing imminent environmental challenges.
It is also clear that action needs to be swift and impactful to change the trajectory that we are on.
The Jane Goodall Institute New Zealand is working to be part of this solution, and to enable all New Zealanders to make a difference.
You can help via our advocacy campaigns. - JGINZ Advocacy Campaigns
You can also get involved directly with projects that can make a difference, and also empower our young New Zealanders to become informed and take action, so that their future is one of prosperity for animals, people and our shared environment. - Roots & Shoots Programme
In the year ahead JGINZ has big plans to amplify our impact via our campaigns and programmes, particularly in the development of our Roots & Shoots programme, via a digital sustainability and citizenship platform, maximising outreach and action. Stay tuned for our news! Or get in contact to get involved!
As Dr. Jane says - We must understand, care and act, for all to be saved.