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 25 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 357 vascular plants, 56 birds, two bats, one frog, 18 terrestrial reptiles and 11 freshwater fish species are regionally threatened or at risk of extinction. 

What is a Biodiversity Focus Area (BFA)?

Biodiversity Focus Areas (BFAs) are a network of ecologically important sites in the Tāmaki Makaurau region that need careful management, to protect the indigenous biodiversity values present. By protecting these areas, 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 prioritise and plan for the delivery of conservation activity on public land, and to 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 are BFAs identified?

Current BFAs were identified using spatial conservation planning software and workshops with experts on Auckland’s biodiversity. The 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 that a representative range of indigenous ecosystems would persist into the future.  

The BFAs for indigenous fauna and flora were mapped through a separate process. Species BFAs were identified through a series of workshops with specialists and mapped manually. Species BFAs have been mapped to align with the ecosystem BFAs and may be the same area as an ecosystem BFA, a subset of an existing BFA or in some cases a new species BFA. 

 The mapping of the BFA sites is ongoing as we learn more about species population trends and distribution in the region. 

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 25 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.  

Through the careful management of BFAs, examples of unique ecosystems can be better protected, and links between sites strengthened. 

Biodiversity Focus Areas also assist the council to prioritise our investment in management activities and guide Council support for private landowners and other community partners and make the best use of limited resources.  

BFAs on private land

The protection, restoration and enhancement of BFAs depends on various factors, including: 

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

If you’re fortunate enough to have a BFA on your land, it means you have a precious piece of native biodiversity on your doorstep. Voluntary protection and restoration efforts on private land are critical for preserving and enhancing native biodiversity in the region.  

BFAs are non-statutory, so there is no requirement for you to do anything. However, voluntary protection and restoration efforts on private land are critical for preserving and enhancing indigenous biodiversity in the region – approximately one-third of all BFA occurs on private land.  

Managing a BFA area on your property provides regional biodiversity benefits and, as such, landowners may be able to access expert advice, funds and subsidies to support them in fencing, and planting, and pest management tools (e.g. traps). and receive expert advice.   

Landowners can also improve biodiversity values on their land by engaging with conservation groups or projects in their area.  

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 identified by private landowners and confirmed as management priorities.