Land

The land domain consists of soil, rock, and what is on the land, such as plants, animals, and human-made structures. It underpins our agriculture, forestry, and tourism and, as a result, is important to our economy. The way we use our land influences its productivity and affects our indigenous biodiversity and ecosystems. We also value land for its scenic, recreational, historical, and cultural significance.

Find out about the state of our land, the pressures that contribute to this state, and the impact on us and our environment.

Latest news
See Land domain updates for the latest news on land domain indicators.

  • Active sand dune extent

    Active sand dunes are distinct coastal habitats that sit between the land and marine domains. Characterised by their moving sands, they support a unique group of plants and animals. 

  • Agricultural and horticultural land use

    Land uses place different pressures on the land and on receiving environments such as waterways. These pressures can be both positive (eg increased productivity) and negative (eg biodiversity loss and reduced functioning of ecosystems).

  • Bird species on public conservation land

    The status of our bird communities is an important indicator of the condition of our ecosystems. Many indigenous birds play key ecological roles, including dispersing seeds and pollinating flowers.

  • Change in farm numbers and farm size

    The number and area of farms involved in agricultural activities, and how they are changing, is important because agricultural activities can affect soil health and water quality.

  • Change in livestock numbers

    Livestock numbers reflect changes in the number of farmed beef and dairy cattle, deer, and sheep across New Zealand. Livestock farming is a widespread land use in this country.

  • Change in use of Māori land for primary production

    We report only on a subset of Māori land that was used for primary production activities. The activities we cover are main land use types (eg forest plantation, and horticulture), and livestock numbers for main stock types (eg dairy cattle, and deer).

     

  • Changes in conservation status of indigenous land species

    New Zealand has unique indigenous plants and animals that are our national taonga (treasures), most are endemic (found nowhere else in the world). The conservation status of our biodiversity represents their risk of extinction.

  • Distribution of indigenous trees

    The rates of establishment (recruitment) and death (mortality) of indigenous tree species vary across New Zealand. Changes in the state of the environment may change the rates of recruitment and mortality of particular tree species.  

  • Estimated highly erodible land in the North Island

    Some areas of New Zealand’s North Island are classified as highly erodible land. They have steep slopes and are at high risk of mass soil movement because they lack woody vegetation cover with deep roots to hold the soil in place.

  • Estimated long-term soil erosion

    Soil erosion reduces the productive capacity of land. Sediment entering waterways affects water quality, storage capacity, and biodiversity.

  • High-class land for food production

    High-class land is the most productive land for growing food. It supports most crops across New Zealand. Expanding lifestyle blocks and urban areas reduce the availability of high-class land for commercial crop growing.

  • Indigenous cover and protection in land environments

    New Zealand’s land area has been divided into 500 land environments, each defined by their unique climate, topography, and soils.

  • Irrigated land area

    Irrigation can improve the productivity of land for farming activity, and support amenity or recreational land uses within urban environments. Irrigation can also alter the natural character of our landscapes, and can increase nutrient run-off into waterways. 

  • Land cover

    Land cover describes the extent of vegetation, water bodies, built environments, and bare natural surfaces (eg gravel and rock) across New Zealand.

  • Land pests

    Animal and plant pests are one of the biggest threats to biodiversity in the land environment. Pest predators, other animal pests (such as deer and goats) and pest plants can dramatically change our indigenous and agricultural environments. 

  • Modelled rat and stoat population responses to mast-seeding events

    Mast-seeding events occur when plant species (eg New Zealand flax or beech trees) produce very large amounts of seed, usually every 4–6 years. 

  • Pest impacts on indigenous trees

    Deer, goats, and possums are animal pests in New Zealand. The species of trees they prefer to eat may become locally extinct and nationally much rarer than less palatable species.

  • Predicted pre-human vegetation

    Reporting the predicted pre-human vegetation across New Zealand helps us understand how changes in land use cause changes to the state of land cover, and threaten indigenous biodiversity.

  • Rare ecosystems

    Rare ecosystems either naturally cover very small areas or have very little of their original extent remaining. Their conservation priority is determined by their threat of extinction. 

  • Soil orders

    Soil is essential for agriculture and forestry production, and is critical to the natural environment. Soils regulate water quality and help with nutrient cycling and carbon storage. 

  • Soil quality and land use

    Different land uses put pressure on the land environment and can change soil quality. Soil supports the productivity of agriculture, horticulture, and forestry, and filters water to help prevent waterways from becoming contaminated.

  • Status of widespread indigenous trees

    Eight indigenous tree species, spanning a range of ecological niches, were surveyed twice between 2002 and 2014. Monitoring the status and trends of these tree species helps us detect large-scale, long-term changes and problems for our forest ecosystems.

  • Use of public conservation land

    One-third of our land area is held as public conservation land. Increasing human activities on our protected areas can put pressure on these environments and degrade their cultural and aesthetic value.

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