This indicator provides information that describes on-site (or in situ) and off-site (or ex situ) efforts to conserve genetic diversity within species. Some species have suffered from a loss of genetic variability due to population decline and a reduction in their former range and distribution. Continued loss of genetic variability will threaten the viability of these species and may accelerate a decline that may lead ultimately to extinction.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) is the central government agency charged with protecting New Zealand’s indigenous flora and fauna. Strategies for conserving individual species or species groups are published in Threatened Species Recovery Plans. These specify the steps that need to be taken to prevent extinction and return the species to a non- threatened state. Recovery plans are primarily used by DOC staff to allocate resources and guide work programmes. They also provide a framework for initiatives with tangata whenua (the local Māori community), community interest groups, landowners, researchers and members of the public.
Little or nothing is known about the genetic variability of most endemic species, and few are being actively managed to ensure genetic diversity is retained.
Efforts to understand and maintain the genetic diversity of iconic species such as kiwi, tuatara and kauri have gathered pace over recent decades and are now widely supported. These are just three examples of an ever-increasing number of on-site and off-site programmes aimed at conserving the genetic diversity of New Zealand’s endemic flora and fauna.