Not all conservation land is high conservation value

Not all conservation land is high conservation value

It is often assumed that conservation land equates to national parks. This is not the case.

Conservation land makes up around 33% of New Zealand’s surface area and includes a raft of land types with a wide range of conservation values.

Everybody agrees national parks are sacrosanct. There is no argument here. National parks make up 35% of the Department of Conservation (DOC) estate so that’s 11% of New Zealand’s surface area.

Let’s look a little more closely at the different categories of conservation land that DOC administers: 

  • New Zealand's total land area is 26.5m
  • New Zealand has 14 national parks covering around 3m ha in total. These tend to be the highest conservation value lands.

  • We have 32 conservation parks, totaling around 2m ha. As a generalisation, these tend to be the second highest conservation value lands.

  • New Zealand has almost 2,000 reserves, with a total area of around 0.5m ha. These tend to be the third highest conservation value lands.

  • And there are more than 6,000 stewardship areas, with a total area of around 3m ha. These tend to be the lowest conservation value lands.

 areas of different categories of land in the Conservation estate pie graph

Much of the land in the DOC estate, including stewardship land, was included in 1987 as part of the re-organisation of Crown land – not as a result of any assessment of conservation values. DOC was to act as steward for this land until its destiny was determined.



The 8 arguments against the ban (click each argument to see more detail).