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Environmental data of New Zealand – all in one place

New Zealand’s seven Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) have created the National Environmental Data Centre (NEDC) website to make the environmental information held by CRIs more accessible to all New Zealanders. Source: Timberbiz

The datasets include a huge range of information from climate and atmosphere, freshwater, land and oceans, including biodiversity and geological data. They will be of benefit not only to advance science, but also for a myriad of uses by Māori, central and regional government, businesses, researchers and the general public.

Scion’s National Forestry Herbarium, a nationally significant collection, specialises in cultivated tree species associated with forestry and amenity planting. Established in 1945, it is home to about 40,000 fully catalogued, geo-referenced specimens at Scion’s Rotorua campus. The herbarium also houses specimens of indigenous and introduced species collected in the central North Island and the Bay of Plenty.

Herbarium curator, Matt Buys, says the specimens and their associated data are an irreplaceable national biocultural asset.

“The collection not only provides access to the physical dried elements of the collected plant, but also to data associated with the collection event such as date of collection, georeferenced locality details, habitat description and plant abundance. Such distribution data, over time, informs, amongst other things, the effect of any disturbance, such as climate change or a new pest, on New Zealand’s biodiversity,” he says.

The CRI research data hosted on the NEDC is extensive and, although much of it is already being used, the new website substantially increases accessibility and convenience. It contains a wide variety of tools and resources that range across seven environmental categories from atmosphere to land and ocean.

The “Global eradication and response database – Gerda” – hosted by Plant & Food Research – is a collaborative database that looks at the rates of invasion of unwanted species from around the world. This has been intensified by the increased rates of international trade and travel, by climate change and by the urbanisation of pest species.

“Our Future Climate New Zealand” (Climate change projections) – hosted by NIWA – enables the user to make climate change projections for New Zealand. By employing a range of maps and charts the user can choose from a variety of scenarios to help forecast climate change. Such projections are invaluable for urban planning by central and local governments, and individuals can use the material to better understand the future of a specific region.

The “National Tsunami Hazard Model” – hosted by GNS Science – is an all-encompassing dataset that not only defines the maximum expected tsunami height, but also provides links about tsunami monitoring, tsunami understanding, public awareness and more.

“Biota of New Zealand” – hosted by Manaaki Whenua – is New Zealand’s principal resource for taxonomic information about fungi, land invertebrates and plants, and plant pathogenic bacteria and viruses. This resource plays a critical role in the identification of unknown organisms at New Zealand’s borders. It is also our catalogue of rare and threatened species – an invaluable record of New Zealand’s unique biodiversity.

NIWA’s chief scientist, environmental information Dr Jochen Schmidt represents the joint CRI Expert Group behind NEDC.

The website can be found at: