Degradation and recovery

Investigating how to assess the cumulative effects caused by human activities, and the potential for recovery

Led by Conrad Pilditch (University of Waikato)

Marine ecosystems are affected by human-induced stressors (eg climate change, fishing, pollutants, dredging) at multiple scales.

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.

Stakeholders and Māori partners 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