Biological diversity, or “biodiversity” for short, describes the variety of all biological life — plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms — the genes they contain and the ecosystems on land or in water where they live. It is the diversity of life on earth.
Ecosystems provide us with products and services. For example:
- Biodiversity in the ground provides healthy soils to grow food
- Insects pollinate the plants we use for food and break down organic material
- Forests clean the air we breathe and provide soil stability
- Wetlands control floods and filter pollutants
- Many plants and animals also provide us with medicine and help control diseases
Because of this, healthy ecosystems are important economically and culturally.
Healthy ecosystems are important in Māori beliefs and customs. Mauri is the life-force or health of ecosystems and when the environment is degraded the mauri is affected which in turn affects the well-being of the local people.
Pests are unwanted plants and animals that have significant impacts on our environment, economy and our people. Pest animals and pest plants can threaten agriculture, animal and human health and New Zealand's natural ecosystems. By affecting the environment, pests threaten biodiversity.
The Ministry for Primary Industries ('MPI'), working with DINZ, Beef+LambNZ, Dairy Companies' Association of New Zealand and DairyNZ has undertaken a 'hazard identification' of the exotic pests that pose risks to key pastures used on our livestock operations. Although this is not a full risk assessment, if you are interested in learning about the types of pest that have caused loss and damage in pastures overseas and the pathways by which they could enter New Zealand, click here.
MPI has also written a technical paper assessing the ways that different entry pathways for pasture pests into New Zealand are managed by the current biosecurity risk management system. If you are interested in the pathway assessment, click here.
For an explanation of what these two documents cover and do not cover, and how they are helpful going forward, see the page dedicated to pasture pests on the MPI website.
The combination of measures used to avoid a pest incursion or respond to a pest incursion with the objective of protecting biodiversity is often referred to as "biosecurity".
For detailed information, see the 2013 Drystock Biosecurity Guidelines.