BioHeritage Eco-index

We're working to develop an Eco-index to measure biodiversity investment to be able to report progress on reversing the decline of Aotearoa’s biological heritage.

At A Glance:

People and organisations all over the country are busy monitoring our biological heritage. But more often than not, they’re each using different measures and the information collected doesn’t advise land managers on how to reverse the decline of native biodiversity. 

The BioHeritage Eco-index team aims to help co-design these measures with major sectors, to enable land managers to know if they’re making positive change for biodiversity. Each Eco-index will be adapted until we see enduring impacts and whakamanatanga (empowerment). The sets of measures from different sectors will have some elements in common with each other, and those can provide a national-level aggregated picture of Aotearoa New Zealand’s bioheritage status over time. The Eco-indices will require restoring the mauri of key ecosystems to result in a cleaner environment and increased abundance of taonga species, on which many Māori traditions depend (e.g., mahinga kai).

The team are guided by a 100-year restoration vision. They aim to provide land managers with the information necessary to plan actions and incremental investments needed to generate large, intergenerational and cumulative impacts. Importantly, this approach aims to complement, and not duplicate, existing environmental and biodiversity reporting mechanisms. 

“We cannot make economically efficient or socially fair environmental rules if we cannot measure authoritatively what is happening to the physical resource base on which our wellbeing ultimately depends”.

New Zealand’s Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, November 2019.


Dr John Reid 

Ngāti Pikiao, Tainui

J D Reid LTD

Dr Kiri Joy Wallace  

University of Waikato 

Team members:

Dr Jay Whitehead

Indicator Specialist & Environmental Economist

AgriBusiness Group

Ngāti Māmoe and Ngāi Tahu

Catherine Kirby

Communication & Relationships Manager

Entelea Scicom Ltd

Monique Hall

Research Assistant

University of Waikato


This investment is still in the very early stages, but intends to focus on:  

  1. Development of novel measures of human (hauora) and environmental health.  
  2. Identification of the types of on-ground actions organisations can take that have the greatest positive impact on native biodiversity.
  3. Development of impact investment criteria based on the Eco-index. 

Upcoming Activities:

  • Establish a 100-year bioheritage vision.
  • Build on Tranche 1 BioHeritage projects to capitalise on existing relationships and knowledge.
  • Undertake a detailed review of current biodiversity reporting systems across the private and public sectors, the indicators they use, the data they gather, and the data infrastructure they use.
  • Determine the best pathways and sectors for implementing the Eco-index that generates the highest impact.
  • Finalise a research and development team who will co-develop the national BioHeritage Eco-index in partnership with public and private sector organizations.
  • Based on the review, and public-private sector engagement, a prototype bicultural national indicator set will be developed to measure progress against the 100-year national vision.
  • Develop an Eco-index. Eco-indices will be co-developed across land management sectors that report against the national BioHeritage Eco-index as they work towards the vision.

Research Partners:

  • University of Waikato 
  • People, Cities & Nature research group
  • University of Canterbury 
  • Companies within the farm and forestry industries
  • Banks
  • Iwi and hapū
  • Environmental, social and governance accounting organisations
  • Environmental NGOs
  • Urban residents and communities

Updated September 2020

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