Degradation and recovery

Investigating ways to assess the effects of human activities and natural events on marine ecosystems, and the potential for recovery.

Led by Conrad Pilditch (University of Waikato)

Marine ecosystems are affected by stressors, both natural (eg flooding, climate change) and human-induced (eg pollutants, fishing). These stressors interact in complex ways and some can be transported long distances, causing cumulative effects that extend over large areas and build up over time. This makes managing marine environments, and assessing the likely degradation – or recovery – of ecological, social and cultural values if certain activities proceed, extremely challenging.

Māori and stakeholders have consistently highlighted that a greater understanding of the cumulative effects from multiple activities, and how they can be managed to recover ecological function and marine values, is a priority. We are therefore developing:

  • Methods to map stressor footprints and their impacts on ecosystem services
  • Methods to assess the recovery potential of degraded habitats
  • An assessment of how ecological degradation and recovery alters peoples’ values from a mātauranga and tikanga Māori context
  • Tools to improve cumulative effects management

One project is still being co-developed.