Biodiversity Policy

Biodiversity - Without It We’re All Goners!

Most people have probably never stopped to really think about biodiversity in New Zealand. At dinner parties people don’t talk about how dependent we all are on the fragile combination of our unique natural capital. But they should! Biodiversity is responsible for our ability to withstand climate change, support our freshwater and marine life, grow crops and farm animals, and it supports our tourism and primary industries. It underpins our ecosystems, landscapes, economy, health, recreation and kaitiakitanga. True prosperity for New Zealand literally comes from the protection and enhancement of our biodiversity.

Broadly speaking TOP recognises that New Zealand has six key challenges ahead of us:

  • Native birds - continue pest control to protect our indigenous species from extinction.
  • Native forests - use indigenous species forestry to meet our international and domestic goals.
  • Biodiversity planning - reward those who protect and enhance, and charge those that don't with the full cost of their failure.
  • Monitoring & compliance - we can’t change or cost what we can’t measure. TOP will address the chronic underfunding for measurement, compliance and enforcement of our national biodiversity policies.
  • Stewardship - resolve Land Stewardship reclassification disputes to ensure that areas we need for biodiversity are able to thrive and succeed for the long term.
  • Marine - TOP supports marine spatial planning and would expect circa 30% of New Zealand waters to be set aside as protected areas.


  • We will account for the true value of New Zealand’s biodiversity in our national business, accounting and reporting systems by introducing explicit and systematic conservation performance measures.
  • We will address the costs of lost biodiversity on private land, and value the benefits private landowners give society when they conserve, protect and restore biodiversity.
  • For those that do cause harm to our environment, whether private or business, we will introduce environmental taxes. Under this polluter-pays approach TOP also supports environmental bonds. This means those who are issued consents for projects based on promises of future restoration are required to put money into a trust before the work commences.
  • We will create an oversight system that addresses conflicts of responsibility, separating adjudicating from implementation oversight, and ensure DOC is free to advocate for conservation, protection and restoration of biodiversity.

At TOP we completely embrace our role as kaitiaki and custodians of our natural world, and accept that it is our responsibility to recognise the limits of our natural capital. We think that makes for an excellent dinner party conversation!!

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Page last updated on 24-Sep 2020


TOP supports making Farm Environmental Planning mandatory to recognise that good biodiversity and environmental management is good for business long-term.

TOP supports whitebaiting farms. Wild whitebait has a long history in New Zealand, but today we know that it decimates our engaged fauna. Wild-caught whitebait is part of our heritage, but not our future.

TOP prioritises controlling pests to protect our native flora and fauna. TOP supports technological innovation such as biological control and smart AI trapping that improves outcomes over and above 1080 control. Until this is possible, we must use the best tools we have, and this is currently 1080.

Wilding conifer control is important and requires more funding. Investment in solving this problem will best come from the commercial forestry industry, as the ones who benefit the most from exotic tree planting in New Zealand.

Yes. TOP wants to see policy that helps Kiwis find really ingenious home-grown solutions to this challenge, such as gene editing to increase beneficial mycorrhizal to combat the disease. This is important for the survival of our own taonga, but has the potential to help New Zealand technology and innovation play a valuable role in similar international challenges.

TOP policy is to increase the money available for conservation in New Zealand by delivering more funding towards private landowners, community groups and iwi, where much of our most vulnerable and underrepresented flora and fauna are located.

TOP supports in principle the development of a National Policy Statement on Biodiversity. More decisive action is needed on this work, as it has taken many years to get to this point, and our biodiversity has declined over this time. Current progress is commendable, but TOP pursues further refinement to ensure that the right incentives are in place for those who are doing the right thing. TOP also supports clearer regulatory bottom lines for those who are not.