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Preserving resources – What are we leaving behind for our children?

Distribution of selected native species

The result is opposite to the target trend (away from sustainable development).  Since the 1970s, the distribution of all seven indicator species has continued to decline.

Biodiversity sustains the natural ecological processes on which life depends. It also underpins industries such as tourism and fishing. This indicator measures distribution changes of seven native species over time.

Graph, Distribution of selected native species as a proportion of pre-human range.  

  • Four species – the short-tailed bat; dactylanthus (a flowering plant); and two bird species, the mōhua (yellowhead) and kōkako – are now found in only 5 percent or less of their pre-human range.
  • The distribution of all seven species has further declined since the 1970s.
  • No new data is available for this indicator. However, changes in biodiversity generally occur over long timeframes.

Greenhouse gas emissions

The result is opposite to the target trend (away from sustainable development).  New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emissions have grown since 1990.

There is convincing evidence that, due to industrial and other human activities, gases are being emitted in such quantities that the composition and dynamics of the atmosphere are changing. This indicator measures net annual emissions of greenhouse gases – the emissions resulting from human activity minus those removed, primarily by forests.

Graph, Net greenhouse gas emissions 1990–2008.

  • New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emissions increased 63 percent between 1990 and 2008. Total emissions increased 23 percent.
  • A total of 26.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents was removed from the atmosphere in 2008, equivalent to 35 percent of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions in that year. This represents a 16 percent decline in ‘removals’ since 1990.
  • This indicator has revised information from the last report. The data source, New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory published by the Ministry for the Environment, is reviewed annually and continuously improved as better data or methodologies become available.

Nitrogen in rivers

The result is opposite to the target trend (away from sustainable development).  Levels of nitrogen at monitored sites in rivers and streams have increased since 1989.

Nutrients such as nitrogen occur naturally in fresh water and are needed by aquatic plants for growth. However, increased levels of nutrients caused by human activity can result in excessive growth and algal blooms. In urban waterways the main source of introduced nutrients is sewage, while in rural areas it is run-off of agricultural fertilisers, and stock manure and urine.

Graph, Nitrogen concentrations in rivers by percentile group 1989–2009.

  • Nitrogen levels increased fastest in rivers that already had higher levels of nitrogen.
  • Overall, the trend between 1989 and 2009 is upwards for rivers with the highest concentrations of nitrogen and increasing slightly for rivers with median concentrations of nitrogen.

Adult educational attainment

The result is in line with the target trend (towards sustainable development).  The proportion of adults with at least secondary school qualifications has increased since 1991.

Educational attainment is an indirect measure of human capital. A higher level of human capital can improve economic efficiency by providing organisations and individuals with knowledge and skills for economic development. Educational attainment is also important for participation in society.

Graph, Proportion of the population aged 25–64 years with selected educational attachments levels.

  • The proportion of adults (aged 25–64 years) with at least secondary school-level qualifications increased steadily from 62 percent in 1991 to 75 percent in 2009.
  • The number of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher rose from 8 percent in 1991 to 22 percent in 2009.

Assets and infrastructure

The result is in line with the target trend (towards sustainable development).  Net capital stock per person rose 31 percent from 1988–2010.

Real net stock of total assets is a measure of New Zealand’s wealth through productive assets. This includes fixed assets such as machinery, equipment, buildings, and infrastructure that can be used continuously in the production process for more than one year. Ensuring that a broad base of assets is maintained can increase future options.

Graph, Real net capital stock per person 1988–2010.

  • The volume of net capital stock rose 71 percent from 1988 to 2010.
  • The increase per person, which takes into account the population increase over the same period, was 31 percent.

Speakers of te reo Māori

There is no overall trend (in terms of sustainable development the result in neutral).  The proportion of Māori able to hold an everyday conversation in the Māori language decreased slightly between 1996 and 2006.

Language is intrinsic to expressing and sustaining culture as a means of communicating values, beliefs, and customs. As the indigenous culture of New Zealand, Māori culture is unique to New Zealand and forms a fundamental part of the national identity. Māori language is central to Māori culture and an important aspect of cultural participation and identity.

Graph, Proportion of Mäori able to converse in te reo Mäori, by census year.

  • Between 1996 and 2006, the proportion of the Māori population able to converse in Māori decreased from 25.0 percent to 23.7 percent.
  • Although in 2006 there were a larger number of Māori speakers in younger age groups, the proportion of speakers in older age groups was much higher.
  • This indicator is unchanged from the 2009 report as it uses information from the five-yearly New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings.
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