Biodiversity is the variety of all forms of life - the wide diversity of plants, animals, and micro-organisms and the ecosystems or habitats/places in which they live.
Why is it important to protect biodiversity?
Biodiversity is our living heritage - providing us with fresh air, fertile soil and clean water, food, clothing, housing as well as cultural significance and spiritual renewal. We used to think of our native plants and animals as just out there somewhere, something to inspire us on the occasional bush walk or drive through the country. But we are now realising that we rely on biodiversity in every part of our lives:
Our food and medicines come from biodiversity
Genetic diversity in crops enables us to produce new varieties
Biodiversity is a source of future pharmaceutical discoveries
Native, birds, bats and insects pollinate our gardens
Forests trap silt and we breathe the oxygen produced by trees
Bacteria break down our green waste into fertile soil
Marine organisms clean up the sewage we put into oceans
Biodiversity is the basis of the burgeoning eco-tourism industry.
Who is responsible for biodiversity management at a Central, Regional and Local Government level?
Department of Conservation, Waikato Regional Council and Territorial Authorities (District Councils and Hamilton City Council)
What is an ecosystem?
Ecosystems are communities of living things (animals, plants, fungi, bacteria and other micro-organisms) that interact with each other and theor physical environment ( soil, rock, minerals, air, water, temperature, salinity).
What are the major ecosystems of the Waikato region?
Native Forest and Scrub, Swamps and Bogs, Streams, Rivers, and Lakes, Beaches and Dunes, Marine and Estuarine, Coastal Islands, Geothermal, Karst (limestone) e.g. Waitomo area and High Mountain Lands e.g. Tongariro National Park.
How many biodiversity projects are happening around the region?
175 approximately and growing. Some groups are undertaking one or more projects.
How many community groups are working across the region?
140 approximately and growing. The Waikato Biodiversity Forum gathers information on these groups when they form or their work is drawn to the attention of the Forum.
What are these groups doing?
The groups are working on a variety of projects which include:
Planting native trees and shrubs, grasses, flaxes etc
Monitoring numbers of plants and animals in designated areas e.g. shore bird counts
Protecting plants e.g. building cages to prevent wood rose being eaten by possums
Raising public awareness of biodiversity through holding events and publishing articles in newspapers
Building fences to keep stock away from streams and rivers
Building walkways to protect sand dune plants from being trampled
How can I join a community group to help protect biodiversity?
Phone 0800BIODIV (246348) and talk to the key contact for this biodiversity advisory service. Moira Cursey will be able to put you in touch with a group that works near you. You may only able to give a little bit of time -say a couple of Saturday mornings a year during the planting season but every contribution helps.