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Safeguarding Wellington’s original forests

Safeguarding Wellington’s original forests

Updated 17 June 2021 4:29pm

Red beech (probably about 500 years old) in Kaitoke Regional Park, one of the region's Key Native Ecosystems.

Using a new national classification system and GIS mapping, our Environmental Science staff have identified the region’s 21 distinct types of forests, and the location and threat status of surviving remnants.

With this information we can all help protect and strengthen the surviving remnants of original forests; whether it’s protecting forests or planting on your property, or part of the One Billion Trees or the Predator Free 2050 campaigns.

Read the full report

Find out what you can do

Forest facts

The climate, soil and land forms of our region gave rise to the diverse range of forests that once covered 782,000 ha of the region. These ranged from dune forest on the Kapiti coast to the subalpine scrub found high in the Tararua Ranges. 

Each of the 21 forest types in the region have been classified using the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (ICUN) threat status criteria. Critically endangered types have less than 10 per cent of their original extent remaining, endangered forest types have less than 30 per cent remaining and vulnerable forest types have less than 50 per cent remaining.

Only 27 per cent of original forests survive, and some are now less than 2 per cent percent of their original size. See the report for more details.

The surviving forests provide food for native species like birds, lizards, bats and insects. Old-growth forests in the Tararua, Remutaka and Aorangi Ranges are important habitat for bird breeding. Offshore islands, pest-free sanctuaries, and areas that are intensively controlled (like Pukaha Mount Bruce and Wainuiomata Mainland Island), play an important role in helping many species recover.

Before - the original forests Today - the remaining forests

Critically endangered forests

Seven of the 21 forest types are rated as critically endangered and are threatened by grazing, weeds, pest animals and fragmentation. One of these is the totara, matai, ribbonwood forests that were abundant on the Wairarapa Plains and on Te Horo Plain, south of the Otaki River. Today only 3 per cent of this forest type remains. A remnant can be found in the Soldiers Memorial Park in Greytown.

 Protect and strengthen the surviving forests

The information in this report can be used to identify forest remnants and prioritise their protection through decisions about land use and planting. This information will help landowners, planners and conservation agencies with ecological restoration and prioritising funding for maintaining the region’s biodiversity.

Ways to protect forest remnants:

  • Identifying these forest types on your land
  • Fencing to keep stock out
  • Pest plant and pest animal control
  • Retiring land that contains threatened forest types
  • Placing threatened forest types in QEII covenants.

Ways to strengthen forest remnants:

More information

Managing your bush block

Key Native Ecosystems

Land management support for rural landowners

Funding for healthy waterways

Million Metres Stream Project

One Billion Trees Programme

Trees that count

Contact: for more information and advice.