Our native bush is decreasing, native species are dying, waterways are being polluted and our emissions continue to increase, a new report shows.

The Ministry for the Environment released the Environment Aotearoa 2022 report on Thursday.

For the past three decades, these reports have tracked the decline of the quality of New Zealand’s environment, looking at water quality, species health and emissions.

The latest report shows:

  • Native bush is decreasing. Almost 13,000 rugby fields worth of native bush have been cleared in the last ten years.
  • Native species are dying. Three quarters of native bird species and 94 percent of native reptiles are, or are at risk of becoming, threatened with extinction.
  • Waterways are struggling. Three quarters of native freshwater species are threatened, due to 86 percent of monitored rivers exceeding pollution limits. 
  • Emissions continue to increase. Emissions have risen 21 percent in the last 30 years. Half of our emissions come from agriculture.

The report highlights that the intensification of the dairy industry is a major driver of New Zealand’s environmental decline. The number of animals, fertiliser and irrigation needed to maintain the dairy industry is deteriorating the environment, the report found. 

The report also shows Aotearoa’s environment is struggling under the pressure of urban development.

The Ministry for the Environment releases these summary reports once every three years.

Top image: A herd of cows near New Plymouth, with Mount Taranaki in the background. (File photo) Photo: Mark Meredith/Getty

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