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Results - data and trends

The Excel spreadsheet below contains the source data for this indicator's graph and information.

Download the data file [XLSX, 17 KB]

Figure 1 shows the amount of the region's natural land cover that is legally protected. 

Figure 1: Protected indigenous land cover in the Waikato region

map showing areas of protected indigenous land cover

You can click here to see the above map as a larger PDF. [PDF, 4.1 MB]

These data show:

  • Around 18 per cent of the Waikato region’s land area is in some form of legal protection.
  • The network of reserves protects 58 per cent of the region’s remaining indigenous land cover.
  • Most of the protected areas of land are in some form of natural cover, mainly indigenous forest (81 per cent of the protected indigenous land), followed by scrub and shrubland (14 per cent), with bare or lightly vegetated land and sedgeland each contributing just 2 per cent. Bare or lightly vegetated surfaces, and tussock grassland are relatively well protected, with over 80 per cent of region’s current extent in protection. Of our remaining indigenous forests, 66 per cent are legally protected, while just 34 per cent of the remaining areas of scrub and shrublands are protected.
  • Department of Conservation land accounts for 89 per cent of the protected natural land cover, while 8 per cent is on private land and the rest is in district or regional council reserves. Every year since 1996, an average of 1200 hectares of privately owned land in the region has been protected under QEII covenants or Nga Whenua Rahui kawenta.
  • Nearly all (89 per cent) of the land that is protected in Acutely Threatened environments is either wetland or exotic cover such as pasture grass. Around 15,000 hectares of terrestrial indigenous cover remains unprotected in such environments.
  • In alpine and sub-alpine areas, almost all of the remaining indigenous land cover is protected, while in montane and submontane areas 70 per cent of the remaining indigenous cover is protected. Indigenous vegetation in coastal and lowland areas have the least amount of protection, (24 per cent and 44 per cent respectively).
  • Thames-Coromandel has the highest proportion of its district in legal protection (40 per cent), while in Waipa District just 3 per cent of the land area is in some form of protection. Within each district the proportion of remaining indigenous land cover on land that is in legal protection varies. In South Waikato, Waitomo, Taupō, Thames-Coromandel, Ōtorohanga, Matamata Piako, and Hauraki District over half of the remaining areas of indigenous land cover are legally protected. Less than one third of the indigenous land cover remaining in Waipa District and Hamilton City is in legal protection.

Total indigenous land cover

Indigenous land cover includes land with indigenous vegetation cover (forest, scrub, flax, herbfields or tussock) as well as naturally occurring bare land such as alpine gravel and rock or permanent snow and ice. It does not include water bodies or wetlands.
Today 28 per cent of the region's land area remains in indigenous cover. 

Protected land

In total, around 18 per cent of the Waikato region’s land is in some form of legal protection (Figure 2). Most of the reserve network is in terrestrial indigenous cover (91 per cent), with the balance comprising wetlands, exotic vegetation, or infrastructure such as carparks.

Figure 3 shows that these reserves protect almost 60 per cent of the remaining indigenous land cover (386,477 hectares). Relatively little indigenous land cover is protected in district council reserves, however this amount may be an under-estimate as data on district council reserves is less complete than for Department of Conservation or private covenant data.

Figure 2: Land cover and protection status in the Waikato region

graph showing land cover and protection status

Protection of types of indigenous land cover

The proportion of protected and unprotected land varies across types of indigenous land cover, as grouped according to LCDB4.1 classes (Figure 3).

Most of the protected indigenous land is currently in indigenous forest (81 per cent), followed by scrub and shrubland (14 per cent), with bare or lightly vegetated land and sedgeland or grassland each contributing just 2 per cent (see Figure 3).

Within the region, the proportion of remaining vegetation types that is legally protected varies. Bare or lightly vegetated surfaces, and tussock grassland are relatively well protected, with over 80 per cent of the region’s current extent in legal protection. These vegetation types tend to occur in high altitudes where land is less suitable for agriculture or other uses. Of our remaining extent of indigenous forest, 66 per cent is legally protected. Scrub and shrublands are the least well protected, with just 34 per cent of the remaining cover in protected land.

Figure 3: Amount of the region's protected areas by land cover type

graph showing amount of protected areas by land cover type

Ownership of legally protected land

Ninety two per cent (356,709 ha) of the region's legally protected land cover is on public land, and eight per cent (29,757 ha) are on private land (Figure 4).

Department of Conservation (DOC) land accounts for 345,022 ha (89 per cent) of the protected indigenous land cover. On private land, QEII covenants accounted for 14,104 ha (4 per cent), and Ngā Whenua Rāhui kawenata accounted for 15,255 ha, (4 per cent). Other protected areas accounted for 12,095 ha (3 per cent).

Figure 5 shows the amount of private land protecting terrestrial indigenous cover since 1997 (note that the time periods are not all 5 year spans). Around 1200 ha of privately owned land in the region has been protected under QEII covenants or Nga Whenua Rahui kawenta every year since 1996.

Figure 4: Type of legal protection for areas of indigenous land cover in the Waikato region

graph showing type of legal protection for areas of indigenous land cover

Figure 5: Change in amount of land protected by QEII or  Ngā Whenua Rāhui Kawenata

graph showing change in amount of land protected by QEII or Nga Whenua Rahui

Note that time periods for <1996 and >2015 are not 5 year time periods.

National Priority 1 Environments

As of December 2016, the total area of indigenous land protected in Acutely and Chronically Threatened environments was 5055 hectares (3007 hectares in Acutely Threatened environments and 2048 hectares in Chronically Threatened environments). This is just 16 per cent of the natural land cover that remains in those environments.

Across the region over 27,000 hectares of indigenous vegetation remains unprotected in our most threatened environments. Nearly all (89 per cent) of the land that is protected in Acutely Threatened environments is either wetland or exotic cover such as pasture grass.

There is great scope for protecting indigenous forest and scrub in Acutely Threatened environments, where about 15,000 hectares of these vegetation types remain but only 3007 ha is protected.

There is also potentially scope for re-vegetating reserve land in Acutely Threatened environments that is currently in non-indigenous cover.

Figure 6 shows the amount of current natural land cover that is protected in threatened environments for each local authority. In Acutely Threatened environments, less than half of the remaining amount of indigenous land cover is legally protected in every local authority.

Figure 6: Proportion of remaining indigenous cover of protected in each National Priority Environment by local authority

graph showing protection by National Priority Threatened Environments

Location of areas of protected indigenous cover

The protected areas of indigenous cover are mainly confined to montane and upland areas (Figure 7), with continuous large areas of reserve land. In lowland areas, reserves and covenants are generally small and scattered.

In alpine and sub-alpine areas (above 1300 m elevation), almost all of the remaining indigenous land cover is protected. Montane and sub-montane areas (300 to 1300 m) are also relatively well protected with 70 per cent of the remaining indigenous cover there protected. Indigenous vegetation in coastal and lowland areas have the least amount of protection (24 per cent and 44 per cent respectively).

Figure 7: Proportion of remaining indigenous cover protected in each bioclimatic zone

 graph showing proportion of remaining indigenous land cover by bioclimatic zone

Within the district council areas, Thames-Coromandel District has the highest proportion of land in some form of protection (40 per cent of the district), while Waipa has the least amount of its land area in protection (3 per cent). Of the amount of indigenous land cover remaining in each district, 70 per cent is protected in South Waikato District, and over 50 per cent in each of Waitomo, Taupō, Thames-Coromandel, Ōtorohanga, Matamata-Piako, and Hauraki districts (see Figure 8).

Figure 8: Proportion of remaining indigenous cover protected in each local authority

 graph showing proportion of remaining indigenous cover protected in each local authority