Predicted pre-human vegetation

  • Image, pre-human vegetation.

    Reporting the predicted pre-human vegetation across New Zealand provides a context for viewing changes in land cover. It helps us understand how changes in land use cause changes to the state of land cover, threaten indigenous biodiversity, and reduce functioning of ecosystems across the land.

    We classified Predicted pre-human vegetation as supporting information.

    Key findings

    Predictive mapping suggests that forest may have covered more than 80 percent of New Zealand before humans arrived in the country.

    Note: Pre-human vegetation refers to the composition and distribution of vegetation types before people arrived in New Zealand 700–800 years ago.

    Definition and methodology

    Landcare Research modelled pre-human vegetation using the Land Environments of New Zealand (LENZ) database. The LENZ categories were defined by climate, landform, and soil variables.

    The natural extent of ecosystems is based on the modelled distribution of 22 forest classes, as well as scrub/tussock grassland, dunelands, and wetlands. Their distribution was modelled based on where they could have occurred before human modification, including areas converted to agricultural or other human-created landscapes. This distribution is a benchmark we can use to compare against current distribution and extent of land cover and habitats.

    Data quality

    We classified Predicted pre-human vegetation as supporting information.


    relevance-indirect This supporting information is an indirect measure of the ‘Land cover, ecosystems, and habitats' topic.


    accuracy-medium The accuracy of the data source is of medium quality.

    See Data quality information for more detail.


    Published 21 October 2015

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