New Zealanders value their unique natural environments, but national and regional reporting shows that Aotearoa’s native biodiversity is degraded and under continued threat.

A better approach is needed, and indeed possible, to restore ngā taonga katoa o te ao tūroa (our natural heritage).

Click here to visit Eco-index’s new website and get the latest updates.

A novel approach to investing in biodiversity restoration

To determine what actions are needed, we are creating both a national Eco-index and tailor-made eco-indices for different land management sectors. Our objective is to link current investment in biodiversity with the impact being achieved on the ground and to identify the best investment opportunities for reversing biodiversity decline.

The Eco-index will guide land managers toward incremental investments that can cumulatively create intergenerational impact. In time, the Eco-index will indicate our country’s biodiversity performance, much like GDP indicates economic performance.

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.

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Focusing Aotearoa New Zealand’s environmental reporting system (2019).


Dr John Reid 

Ngāti Pikiao, Tainui

J D Reid LTD

Penny Payne 

University of Waikato 

Dr Kiri Joy Wallace  

University of Waikato 

Team members:

Dr Jay Whitehead

Dr Jay Whitehead

Indicator Specialist & Environmental Economist


Ngāti Māmoe and Ngāi Tahu

Catherine Kirby

Catherine Kirby

Communication & Relationships Manager

Entelea Scicom Ltd

Monique Hall

Research Assistant

University of Waikato

Nathaniel Calhoun

Advisor – Strategy & Artificial Intelligence

Code Innovation

Karen Denyer


Papawera Consulting Ltd

Konny Brown

Data Infrastructure Engineer

University of Waikato

Peter Reutemann

Advisor – Data Science & Infrastructure

University of Waikato

Learn more about us:

To learn more about the Eco-index programme, check out the brochure and presentation below.

Click to download our brochure and share with your colleagues or community.

Click to Download

Introduction to the Eco-index (August 2021)

Dr Kiri Joy Wallace and Konny Brown introduce the Eco-index Prgoramme as part of the Te Pūtahi Rangahau Taiao – Environmental Research Institute, University of Waikato Seminar Series. This presentation includes an overview of the Eco-index programme, team and objectives.

Biodiversity of Aotearoa Illustration

Our work is focused on reducing the decline of native biodiversity (all native living species) in Aotearoa. We have been fortunate to have the talented Georgia Wells create this Biodiversity of Aotearoa illustration to help us explain our mahi. Please feel free to download Georgia’s work to help in your own teaching, education or research endeavours, it is licenced under a creative commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license.

Biodiversity data for the Eco-index

We are applying the following data criteria for our Eco-index database. If you have a biodiversity dataset that meets most or all of these criteria, please get in touch.

Data must:

  • Be related to native biodiversity, therefore: about or closely related to living things (i.e., not abiotic data, like water chemistry or soil quality)
  • Be collected regularly/ongoing/indefinitely (the Eco-index will report in the future using updated data)
  • Be collected over a large geospatial scale (with clearly defined geographic boundaries – a catchment, rohe or region OR coordinates)
  • Be easy to plug in to our data infrastructure (must be digital and require little cleaning or formatting)

Data additionally preferred to be:

  • Collected for several years in the past, the longer the better
  • Of high resolution for its type of data (the more granular the better)
  • Available by ready-made external access (e.g., API)

Research Areas:

We are currently working on:

  1. Finalising a 100-year national vision for biodiversity restoration.
  2. Building relationships with key land managers and data generators to co-design the Eco-index approach and uncover efficient ways to work together for the benefit of indigenous biodiversity.
  3. Developing methodology for gathering and analysing relevant biodiversity investment and impact data.

Upcoming Activities:

  • Finalise methodology for the development of a national Eco-index
  • Develop data infrastructure for Eco-index development
  • Run an Eco-index prototype to test methodology and data infrastructure

Research Partners:

  • University of Waikato
  • University of Canterbury
  • Iwi
  • Industry
  • Business
  • Communities
  • NGOs
  • Governmental organisations

Habitat restoration

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