[19 April/The Country]

Almost 200 million tonnes of soil are lost in New Zealand each year, which could have consequences on our environment and economy according to a new report on New Zealand’s land from the Ministry for the Environment. The quality and quantity of our soil is crucial to the overall health of our land and wider environment, storing water, carbon and nutrients, growing food, breaking down contaminants and hosting an abundance of species. It is also vital for our economy. According to the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand’s latest stocktake, 192 million tonnes of soil was being lost to erosion each year. Environment Minister, David Parker, acknowledged more action was needed. A recent land survey showed that just under half of the land area was blanketed by forest, grassland, scrub, waterways and bare ground, with the rest being changed by us. The picture painted is challenging for New Zealand’s native biodiversity and ecosystems which continued to be under threat. Habitat loss was a main issue and nearly 83 percent of native birds, bats, reptiles and frogs were either threatened or at risk of extinction. The impact of the climate was expected to bring even more pressure on our land. Mr Parker was troubled by how much of our urban growth was occurring in our irreplaceable highly productive land.