Nature could protect Auckland from climate change

Preserving natural systems that buffer Auckland from increased heat, drought, storms, and rising sea level is essential to protecting the city from impacts of climate change, says Forest & Bird.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, or NIWA, released a report today outlining the risks of climate change for Auckland City.

Auckland region has already warmed 1.6 degrees in the last century, and the report predicts it could warm up to 2.8 degrees further in the next century.

“The report confirms that climate change will have an enormous impact on humans and animals that live in Auckland,” says Forest & Bird Climate Advocate Adelia Hallett.

“Species that are already in trouble could be pushed over the edge. Shorebirds like rare fairy terns will lose habitat to rising sea levels, and face threats to their food sources.”

“Fish catches and the size of shellfish in the Hauraki Gulf are already being impacted by warmer waters and ocean acidification. We also see diseases like kauri dieback and myrtle rust increasing their range.”

“We need to drastically cut emissions and work to protect and restore nature to help our native species to survive, and to protect Auckland from the worst effects of the extreme weather predicted.”

Healthy ecosystems can provide a buffer from extreme weather events.

Natural dunes systems will protect Auckland from storms and sea level rise, and healthy forests and reserves prevent runoff in flooding events. 

Forest & Bird projects like the Northwest Wildlink and Southeast Wildlink are essential for creating safer, connected habitats for native wildlife, and increasing the city’s resilience.

“We can’t continue to build everywhere and pave everything over. Having significant natural spaces in Auckland is a part of the solution for dealing with climate change.”

“We really welcome the initiative of Auckland Council in commissioning this report. All regions in New Zealand should be thinking and planning for the change that is coming,” says Ms Hallett.