Rapid mapping and prioritisation of wetland sites in the Manawatu-Wanganui region, New Zealand

Environ Manage. 2007 Mar;39(3):316-25. doi: 10.1007/s00267-005-0223-1. Epub 2007 Jan 29.


The extent of wetland in New Zealand has decreased by approximately 90% since European settlement began in 1840. Remaining wetlands continue to be threatened by drainage, weeds, and pest invasion. This article presents a rapid method for broad-scale mapping and prioritising palustrine and estuarine wetlands for conservation. Classes of wetland (lacustrine, estuarine, riverine, marine, and palustrine) were mapped using Landsat ETM+ imagery and centre-points of palustrine and estuarine sites as ancillary data. The results shown are for the Manawatu-Wanganui region, which was found to have 3060 ha of palustrine and 250 ha of estuarine wetlands. To set conservation priorities, landscape indicators were computed from a land-cover map and a digital terrain model. Four global indicators were used (representativeness, area, surrounding naturalness, and connectivity), and each was assigned a value to score wetland sites in the region. The final score is an additive function that weights the relative importance of each indicator (i.e., multicriteria decision analysis). The whole process of mapping and ranking wetlands in the Manawatu-Wanganui region took only 6 weeks. The rapid methodology means that consistent wetland inventories and ranking can now actually be produced at reasonable cost, and conservation resources may therefore be better targeted. With complete inventories and priority lists of wetlands, managers will be able to plan for conservation without having to wait for the collection of detailed biologic information, which may now also be prioritised.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • New Zealand
  • Wetlands*