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).

A novel approach to investing in biodiversity restoration

To determine what actions are needed, we are building a national Eco-index. This initiative is linking current investment in biodiversity by major land management sectors with the outcome being achieved. It will identify the best ways to direct actions – by the public and private sectors and by communities – in order to reverse biodiversity decline. It will guide land managers toward incremental actions that can cumulatively create intergenerational impact and reverse biodiversity decline in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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

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


We are currently working on:

  1. 100-year bicultural vision that sets a national benchmark for flourishing native biodiversity.
  2. Methodology for measuring biodiversity restoration action by land managers in Aotearoa and the outcome it is achieving.
  3. Linking in with groups, organisations and agencies that are collecting data that will strengthen our mahi.

Learn more about us:

Check out our exciting new brochure and learn more about The Eco-index: A tool to guide investment in biodiversity restoration. Click to download and share with your community!

Click to Download

For a more detailed explanation of the Eco-index programme, check out Dr Jay Whitehead’s witty keynote presentation below. He explains how our mahi fits in the wider landscape of biodiversity protection and restoration in Aotearoa. Presented at the National Freshwater Conference, 17-18 February 2021, Te Wharewaka o Poneke, Wellington.

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 
  • 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 May 2021

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