New Zealand/Aotearoa has a global reputation as a tourism, lifestyle and agricultural mecca, with snow covered mountains, beautiful beaches, sparkling waters and fertile soils. Having evolved in isolation for over 80 million years, New Zealand/Aotearoa is a global hotspot of biodiversity and is home to a huge array of species found nowhere else on Earth.
New Zealand/Aotearoa was the last large landmass in the world to be settled by humans. Introductions of invasive species; widespread forest and wetland clearance; increasingly intensive agriculture, horticulture and forestry; residential and commercial development; tourism and population growth and over-use of natural resources have contributed to a stark decline in biodiversity and increasing vulnerability to climate change impacts, social and cultural decline. Over the last 750 years, more than 80 species have become extinct and around 1,000 species of plants and animals are now considered threatened with ongoing population decline and extinction.
But New Zealand has a lot to fight for, and it has a role to play in innovation, community action, conservation science and invasive species management as we face the dual crises of biodiversity loss and climate change on a global scale.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) recognizes the conservation significance of New Zealand. Since 2018, TNC has been working with local and central government, local communities, iwi leaders, businesses and conservation groups on science and technology innovations, capacity building and capability at the community level, funding applications and expertise, strategic leadership and a global perspective on the issues faced.
Our work in New Zealand is driven by a vision of healthy, resilient land, water and oceans, and of thriving communities, cultures and economies. Integral to TNC’s approach is our relationship with Māori, and we acknowledge their standing as key partners and leaders across the conservation sector.
TNC’s science and global conservation expertise offer ways to address the landscape scale challenges ahead through the provision of sustainable food and water, the protection of lands, oceans and waters and through mitigating and adapting to climate change. We offer a suite of solution-focused financial tools for sustainable conservation funding and a commitment to engaging diverse stakeholders around common goals. TNC also works at the government level, as well as the community level, championing change and providing breakthrough tools and ideas.
TNC’s objectives for its work in New Zealand are to:
- Amplify and share knowledge for more effective conservation management;
- Develop innovative conservation financing tools;
- Build capability and capacity in conservation and community leadership;
- Incentivize behavior change towards sustainable practices, and;
- Demonstrate projects with the potential for impacts at whole landscape and seascape levels.
Work on the Ground
TNC works with local and central government, local communities, iwi leaders, businesses and conservation groups, with a focus on innovative projects that offer significant impacts and can be applied elsewhere.
We work with local conservation groups and organizations to support their mahi and offer the support they need to achieve their outcomes—and more. It is important to TNC that the projects we focus on have the support of manawhenua and the local community, and that we offer long-term benefits to nature and people.
TNC currently oversees a range of projects in both North and South Islands, including a blue carbon pilot; shellfish reef restoration in the Hauraki Gulf; Land for Life – an afforestation and regenerative agriculture project in the Hawke's Bay and the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance in the top of the South Island.
Conservation Leaders Training Program
TNC is building capability across the conservation sector through its Conservation Leaders training program, bringing internationally renowned trainers from Australia to facilitate learning in the Conservation Standards adaptive planning process. This program has the intention of building a cohort of coaches within New Zealand to support an internationally trusted planning process, thus improving project success and donor confidence. Read More
Shellfish Restoration in the Hauraki Gulf
In the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand’s busiest body of water, we’re supporting efforts to restore shellfish reefs that have been lost through decades of sediment runoff, trawler fishing and extensive dredging. Read more
Waikato River Catchments
In the Waikato—one of North Island’s most intensively farmed and modified landscapes—we are working with many stakeholders and iwi to explore opportunities for the Waikato River to enhance its freshwater, cultural, social and biodiversity values. Read more
Our Blue Carbon project is investigating the potential for coastal wetland restoration that could generate carbon and climate resilience credits. Read more
Our Land for Life program in Hawke's Bay is partnering with Hawke's Bay Regional Council and private landowners to plant trees on unstable land, capture carbon and prevent erosion. Read more
The Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance
In the South Island, we support collective landscape-scale conservation through the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance—an iwi, council and government alliance focused on delivering conservation outcomes in alignment with its strategic plan. Read more
Pacific Island Communities
We are also conscious of the greater Pacific Islands Community we are a part of and have been working with women’s groups in Solomon Islands to help develop alternative livelihoods for communities that support and benefit nature—such as an education venture focused on critically endangered hawksbill turtles. Read more
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Aotearoa New Zealand Overview
Leveraging science and Indigenous knowledge to protect natural resources at scale.DOWNLOAD