Threats and Impacts

Having survived an ice-age, numerous volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, our native species have endured some life-changing circumstances, but nothing has been more disruptive than that arrival of humans.

The most devastating threat to the survival of our native species has been the introduction of mammalian pests such as stoats, possums, rats and deer.

Other human-induced threats to our native wildlife have included -

  • felling of native forests for timber
  • damming of lakes and rivers for hydro-electric development
  • destruction and contamination of native habitats by mining
  • clearing of native vegetation and draining of wetlands for farmland
  • over-fishing and “by-catch” of marine mammals in our oceans
  • run-off of fertiliser and effluent from agriculture in our waterways.

Hydro-electric Schemes

The damming of rivers for hydro development dramatically alters our freshwater habitats and affects native species such as whio (blue duck) and eels.More 

Climate Change

Burning fossil fuels and agricultural emissions have led to climate change that could potentially wipe out native species such as the tuatara. More

Habitat Loss

Humans have wiped out 2/3 of New Zealand’s forests, which were vital habitat for some of our most unique species such as kiwi and kokako.


Some fishing methods such as set netting and longlining kill native species such as Hector’s dolphins and albatrosses as by-catch.


Past and present mining operations have had a disastrous impact of natural places. New mining proposals - lignite mining in Southland and coal mining in the Denniston Plateau - threaten to make the situation worse. More 


Run-off of effluent and fertilisers from farming into our lakes and rivers is seriously affecting the quality of our freshwater and is harming freshwater species such as native fish and eels. More

Bio-security Threats

“Stowaways” such as didymo and Argentine ants that enter New Zealand on ships and planes can have catastrophic effects on native wildlife. One such disease, that is thought to have tropical origins, is kauri dieback disease. More

Introduced Pests

Rats, stoats, cats, hedgehogs, pigs, deer and thar are just some of the introduced species that prey on our native species and destroy their habitats and food sources. Forest & Bird conducts pest control throughout our forests and supports large scale pest control operations employed by DOC 



 What Forest & Bird is doing

  • Freshwater Campaign – Forest & Bird is working with central and regional government, recreational groups and farmers to reduce the impact of agriculture on our freshwater environments. We want our lakes, rivers and streams to be safe to swim inand drink from – and support our native freshwater species. We are also lobbying to protect our pristine rivers, that are home to some of our most threatened species, from being dammed to generate electricity.
  • Dawn Chorus Campaign – Forest & Bird is working to help native bird populations to restore the dawn chorus to our forests. We advocate for more effective pest control and undertake hands-on restoration, pest control and reintroductions of native bird species. More
  • Marine and Coast Campaign – Our marine campaign seeks to establish better protection for the marine environment in marine protected areas, reduction of by-catch of species including dolphins, albatrosses and sea lions in fisheries, and better management of our fisheries to stop the decline in our fish stocks. More
  • High Country Campaign – Forest & Bird is campaigning to protect the South Island high country by establishing a network of high country conservation parks. More