4 August 2022
Bioprotection Aotearoa welcomes the release of the national adaptation plan but believes it falls short of providing clarity and understanding of what adaptation means concerning climate change, particularly for our natural environment.
Many of the actions in the national adaptation plan refer to the restoration and protection of indigenous ecosystems. However, the natural environment of Aotearoa New Zealand is continually adapting and changing over time. What is not understood, is the longer-term implications of ecosystem loss, and this is where we believe more research should be directed to fill these gaps in knowledge.
Rather than focus on the protection of individual species and or systems in our natural environment, more research is required to understand the value of these ecosystems and species and how to build resilience across environmental scales.
Knowing what defines the health of a productive ecosystem is crucial to understanding how to protect ecosystems, how to undermine the persistence of undesirable components in ecosystems, and how to monitor whether sustainable ecosystem productivity is improving. In essence, a healthy ecosystem is relatively resistant to change and can also reassemble and reorganise following disruption. This is what it means to be resilient to change.
The research of Bioprotection Aotearoa is working to understand what constitutes a healthy ecosystem, including the incorporation of mauri (life forces). The health of our plant-based productive ecosystems emerges from interactions amongst plant communities, microbes in and on plants, external stressors, and the broader landscape context at a variety of spatial scales.
This knowledge will form a baseline so that success and failure can be measured. Without this, it is challenging to develop a long-term adaptation plan for our natural environment that will protect the life forces that exist in Aotearoa New Zealand. Although the national adaptation plan identifies understanding ecosystem baselines as a knowledge gap, there are few concrete actions identified to fill this critical gap.
Bioprotection Aotearoa believes there is a need to have an inclusive conversation as a nation to identify what we want to protect (and what that would cost), whether we are prepared to allow change and understand what that might look like. We need to develop shared goals of adaptation as a nation, including what it is about the natural environment that we value. These are questions of ethics and values that need to be discussed by citizens across Aotearoa New Zealand.
Read the full submission from Bioprotection Aotearoa in response to the draft national adaptation plan here.