New Zealand is world-renowned for its breath-taking landscapes and unique plant and animal species. Beginning with the separation of Zealandia from the ancient landmass of Gondwana more than 80 million years ago, our isolation has guided the evolution of our flora and fauna in remarkable ways.
Like all islands, New Zealand is a fascinating test lab for seeing evolution in action. Despite making up only 5% of the earth’s landmass – islands hold nearly 40% of its endangered species.
In the relative absence of mammals (particularly humans), New Zealand’s insects, birds and reptiles evolved to fill new niches and adopt unusual forms. Flightless birds, mouse-sized crickets and water-less frogs are just some examples of this process in action. Today, New Zealand is home to more than 2,000 plants, 200 birds, reptiles and bats, and well over 20,000 insect species that are found nowhere else.
Giving all species the best chance
New Zealand also have strong track record in conservation, with a number of success stories, including the black robin, kakapo, and saddleback. Today there are many conservation programmes in action trying to stem the tide, but there are simply not enough resources available to protect all our endangered species. We are at risk of losing many.
The New Zealand of today is very different from what it was before humans arrived; and it will be different again in the future. Our native flora and fauna will eventually adapt to become more resilient to the threats they face. But they need our help. We need to ensure they are given this chance, to give them the time they need to adapt to be able to stand on their own.