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 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

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

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

Watch Dr. Jay Whitehead’s witty keynote presentation from the National Freshwater Conference (Feb 2021) for a detailed explanation of the Eco-index programme and how it fits within the wider landscape of biodiversity protection and restoration in Aotearoa.


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

Updated July 2021

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