Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Kiwis Counting Kiwis: Biodiversity Monitoring on Private Land in New Zealand

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posted on 2021-11-08, 05:11 authored by Byrd, Jacki

This thesis seeks to determine what monitoring will measure the effectiveness of public funding for the protection and enhancement of biodiversity on private land in New Zealand. To establish this, four questions have been asked: Is monitoring of biodiversity change on private land a requirement to provide information for biodiversity status reports? With biodiversity loss such a critical world issue, New Zealand has committed to its protection along with many other nations. The country's obligations and strategies for protecting, monitoring and reporting biodiversity change on private land are provided. Current reporting practices are critiqued and conclude that key data are not being collected and that private land is not well covered. As a result, biodiversity reports include very little biodiversity outcome data from private land. Are there are a core group of biodiversity monitoring methods suitable for landowners to measure the success of their conservation actions and to measure improvements to biodiversity on their land? 19 landowners and monitors who are engaged in conservation work and biodiversity outcome monitoring on private land have been interviewed in 12 case studies. These landowners and monitors are using 31 different monitoring methods. The methods have been assessed to see how landowners use the data and assessed against a set of criteria to determine their suitability. A core group of nine biodiversity monitoring methods emerge as the most useful in these cases. Do agencies which fund biodiversity protection and enhancement on private land need to measure the success of their funding initiatives? 18 agencies have given funds to these 12 case studies to support the conservation of some of the country's most threatened and endangered species, ecosystems and habitats that are found on their land. Results show that few quantitative indicators are used to measure improvements to biodiversity which may result from these grants. This research suggests ways for agencies which fund biodiversity protection on private land to measure the success of their funding initiatives so the effectiveness of these funds can be assessed. What biodiversity information do landowners need in order to make decisions about management on their land and to inform agencies which have funded biodiversity conservation on their land? The monitoring methods in use by landowners are considered in terms of their suitability to inform land management decisions and to inform funding agencies of the outcomes of the funds. This leads to a recommended core group of methods that can meet the needs of both parties. The research found that monitoring is as much a social event as a scientific exercise. Landowners found the social resources they needed to support their monitoring included having others to work with, having others to talk to like mentors, financial support, getting rewards from their monitoring results and gaining confidence to give it a go. All landowners and monitors identified barriers to monitoring they had to overcome, and these are discussed. This thesis recommends a list of core monitoring methods that are suitable for landowners to measure progress towards their biodiversity goals, improvements to biodiversity and can assist with land management decisions. They can also be used by funding agencies to judge the effectiveness of their funding towards the protection and enhancement of biodiversity on private land in New Zealand. This investigation highlights eight issues with funding goals, biodiversity monitoring and reporting on private land and provides 17 recommendations to address the issues. With 70% of New Zealand in private ownership, it is vital that landowners understand how their land contributes to the survival of native vegetation, habitats, ecosystems, species and their genes, which live on their land. The landowners in these 12 cases understand. They undertake conservation work and biodiversity monitoring, which demonstrates that landowners could provide information and evidence to measure the effectiveness of public funding for biodiversity protection on their land. These kiwi landowners are counting kiwis, and other biodiversity indicators, to measure the effect of their conservation work and its impact on restoring New Zealand's unique flora and fauna.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Ecology and Biodiversity

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Science

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Biological Sciences


Williams, Murray