State of native forests in New Zealand revealed

State of native forests in New Zealand revealed

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New maps derived directly from satellite images have revealed that nearly a quarter of New Zealand’s land area is taken up by indigenous forest. Landcare Research’s EcoSat forest maps show native forests cover nearly 66,000 km2, 24.8% of the country. Beech forests are the most widespread, followed by podocarp-broadleaved forests, which include conifers such as rimu, totara and matai, and broadleaved trees like rata, tawa and rewarewa. Exotic forest makes up 7.7% of our land area. A definitive nationwide measure will enable the authorities to be able to tell if native forests are increasing or decreasing over time. This is crucial for those who need information on biodiversity and maintaining natural habitats. It is also important for monitoring New Zealand’s response to climate change targets through the amount of carbon dioxide being stored in indigenous trees. The EcoSat programme makes satellite pictures easier to interpret. The satellite imagery for the maps was collected between 1999 and 2003. The maps will be updated in 2010.