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Published: 2001-05-31 00:00:00

The internet has a new site where surfers can find a wealth of information on how the Waikato environment is doing right now.

Environment Waikato has launched its new Environmental Indicators website next week to mark Earth Day on Tuesday, June 5.

The new section of the site, www.ew.govt.nz/indicators, includes 18 different up-to-date “indicators” that measure the health of the Waikato’s water, air and land. The site will eventually include 80 to 100 different measures that follow on from the Council’s State of the Environment report.

The site will document precisely all measures Environment Waikato takes and those who want detailed information will also be able to see how conclusions were reached. For each indicator, the site has key points, a more detailed “report card”, technical information on how, where and when measurements were made and analysed, and raw data.

Project co-ordinator Dr Beat Huser said good quality information about the Region’s environment was critical for the Council.

“We can’t manage what we don’t know. What we learn from that information is closely linked to action in the community.”

The information gathered needs to be relevant and reliable, collected cost effectively, useful for Councillors to make decisions and accessible for everyone in the Region.

Indicators play a key role, summarising mountains of scientific data into simple information and messages that everyone can understand. For instance, a water quality indicator combines individual measures into a single number that shows if a river or lake is good or bad for swimming.

“The new indicators site will increase awareness and understanding of environmental issues and help people participate and take action to improve the environment. What gets measured gets done.

“We don’t know enough about our environment and the limits it can take from human activity. We need better information and indicators that link environmental and economic decision making.”

Dr Huser said the new site would mean people who were interested in environmental measurements would not have to ask Environment Waikato for the information – all indicators would be regularly updated on the website, and new indicators added as information becomes available.

“Better information leads to better informed communities, better decisions and ultimately to a better environment.”