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New Zealand Hotspot

The New Zealand hotspot covers and area of 270,197 sq km and has varied landscapes of rugged mountains, rolling hills and wide alluvial plains. The country has some of the most extensive temperate rainforests on earth. Other vegetation includes shrublands, scrub and snow grasses.

New Zealand has over 2,300 plant, 10 mammal, 195 bird, 37 reptile, four amphibian and 39 freshwater fish species. One of the worlds oldest plants-a fern, Loxoma cunninghamii, which is believed to be more than 60 million years old, is found in New Zealand.

Bird species include 80 species of sea birds and more than 75% of the world's penguin species are known to breed here. In 2003, a bird species, the New Zealand storm petrel (Oceanites maorianus), thought to be extinct was rediscovered near North Island. The kakpo (Strigops habroptilus) a large, nocturnal, flightless bird and all four species of kiwi, the trademark bird of New Zealand, are all highly threatened. Mammalian inhabitants of the hotspot include endemic bat species like the long-tailed wattled bat (Chalinolobus tuberculatus), lesser short-tailed bat (Mysticina tuberculata), and the Hooker's sea lion (Phocarctos hookeri). Reptiles unique to this region include species of geckos, skinks and tuataras. Amphibians are represented by four primitive endemic frog species.

Though the giant birds have become extinct, New Zealand's giant insects are still thriving. Gigantism can be seen in the wingless cricket or weta, which is the world's heaviest insect, and many species of flatworms, land snails, centipedes, slugs and earthworms.

Human impacts on New Zealand's natural ecosystems have been extensive since the time man first set foot on these islands. Introduction of alien species is a major threat even today. In addition large-scale habitat destruction through deforestation, wetland drainage and ecosystem degradation are serious issues.

Conservation has been a priority of New Zealand with both the government and individuals involved and today 74,260 sq km or 27.5% of the land area is officially protected.

[The information has been sourced from the Conservation International website on biodiversity hotspots ( Accessed in February 2008.]

ATREE, Tel: 91-80-23530069, 91-80-23533942