Photo credit: Top and bottom left: Andrew Macdonald, Biospatial Ltd 2018-2019
Photo credit: Top and bottom left: Andrew Macdonald, Biospatial Ltd 2018-2019

He aha ngā Wāhanga Aronui Kanorau - Koiora?

What is a Biodiversity Focus Area?

Biodiversity Focus Areas (BFAs) are prioritised areas of ecological significance that guide the delivery of conservation activity. These areas protect a representative range of all indigenous species and ecosystems in Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland.

Photo credit: Top and bottom left: Andrew Macdonald, Biospatial Ltd 2018-2019

Biodiversity in decline

Indigenous biodiversity in the Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland region is under severe pressure.

Only 15 per cent of the original extent of indigenous ecosystems remain in Tāmaki Makaurau, the smallest proportion for any region in the country. Almost 40 per cent of Tāmaki Makaurau's indigenous ecosystem types are identified as Critically Endangered.

Currently 308 vascular plants, 49 birds, two bats, one frog, 16 terrestrial reptiles and 11 freshwater fish species are thought to be regionally threatened or at risk of extinction.

What is a Biodiversity Focus Area (BFA)?

Biodiversity Focus Areas are a network of ecologically significant sites in the Tāmaki Makaurau region that need careful management. By protecting these, we ensure examples of each of our indigenous ecosystems and species survive into the future.

BFAs are non-statutory, but they enable the council to guide the delivery of conservation activity on public land, and they support and guide biodiversity management on private land. 

BFAs have been selected to include a range of indigenous ecosystem types found in the region. BFAs also include key sites for priority threatened species. These represent the minimum habitat requirements each species would need to survive in Tāmaki Makaurau in the future.

Each BFA represents a set of indigenous biodiversity values. In some cases, these may be only ecosystem values, in others they may be only species values. Some sites may represent a combination of ecosystem, species and ecological sequence values.

How the BFAs were identified

The BFAs were first identified using spatial conservation planning software. That software, called Zonation, calculates a ranking of management priority for all native ecosystems across the landscape. The model identifies sites across the landscape that represent higher condition sites across all ecosystems. Where possible, they cluster these sites for management efficiency and effectiveness.

A range of region-wide spatial data-sets were used to inform the model outputs.

These include:

  • distribution and threat status of ecosystems
  • fragmentation of ecosystems across the landscape
  • current state or condition of ecosystems
  • land tenure.

Council ecologists and external experts reviewed the outputs of the model. Through the review process they identified a minimum number of sites across the region that would ensure threatened species and ecosystems would persist into the future. 

The importance of BFAs

We need to protect and restore important ecological areas so Tāmaki Makaurau's natural environment can flourish. 

Unfortunately, Tāmaki Makaurau has only 15 per cent of its indigenous ecosystems remaining.  These remaining ecosystems are crucial to supporting native biodiversity and ensuring habitats remain connected for species to move around the region. Many of these ecosystems also perform important services, such as the provision of clean water and recreation values. 

BFAs on private land

The restoring and enhancing of BFAs depends on various factors, including:

  • the type of ecosystem
  • size and location of sites
  • land tenure
  • existing pressures and available resources.

While council teams manage BFAs in parks, private landowners manage the other sites with technical advice, and potentially some funding, from the council.

Landowners can also improve biodiversity values on their land by engaging with projects like North-West Wildlink. These projects, although outside the BFA network, are restoring the matrix of highly-threatened sites.  

Mapping Biodiversity Focus Areas

The boundaries and extent of BFAs are based on:

  • the current extent of indigenous ecosystem mapping 
  • threatened species habitat and distributions
  • land tenure and management boundaries.

BFA boundaries are adjusted over time as our spatial understanding of ecosystems and species habitats improves, when land management boundaries change or when BFAs are recognised by private landowners.