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What is biodiversity? Why biodiversity is important On-farm actions Additional resources

Many farmers see themselves as guardians of the land. Thriving biodiversity supports dairy farming by enhancing water quality, reducing soil erosion, and providing habitats for native species.

What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity refers to both the variety of species in an area and the amount of genetic variation within each species in an area. A higher diversity of ecosystems in an area contributes to higher levels of biodiversity.

Native or indigenous biodiversity refers to species that occur naturally in New Zealand. Most native species are endemic, meaning they only occur here.

Why is biodiversity important for farming?

Thriving dairy farms rely on the ecosystems they exist within. Protecting and enhancing native biodiversity can provide a wide range of benefits on farm. Direct benefits include providing pollination for crops, enhancing water quality, reducing soil erosion, and providing habitats for native species.

There are also indirect benefits to enhancing biodiversity. There is growing regulatory pressure to consider biodiversity as part of farm management. Consumers, banks and insurers are also looking to support environmentally aligned and resilient farms.

Every farm will be different in terms of what native biodiversity is present, what threats or risks to biodiversity exist, what opportunities there are to enhance biodiversity, and what biodiversity objectives each farmer may have for the future.

Working as a catchment can be helpful for collective biodiversity management, sharing experience and expertise, and can often help to secure funding for biodiversity projects as part of a group. Read more about catchment group support.

On-farm actions and resources

Riparian planting

Planting along streams on your farm will help keep waterways healthy. Planting vegetation on the upper and lower banks enhances waterway conditions for aquatic animals and boosts terrestrial biodiversity. Plants also filter sediment and nutrients that flow into streams.

More information on riparian planting


Trees and shrubs enrich the environment by providing habitat for many types of flora and fauna – birds, reptiles, invertebrates, plants, fungi, lichens and aquatic life. Plantings for livestock shelter, shade and fodder, reducing erosion, and soil conservation can all deliver significant biodiversity and amenity benefits.

Existing areas of natural vegetation can also be fenced off to encourage regeneration. Trees add capital value to your farm as well as character and visual diversity.

More information on how trees can be used to offset carbon


Wetlands are one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems. Protecting, restoring and creating wetlands on-farm can reduce nutrient losses, decrease the impact of floods and provide a valuable habitat for native plants and animals.

More information on wetlands

Biodiversity management resources

More information and resources to understand what biodiversity you have on your farm and how to protect and enhance it is available on the ‘Farming with Native Biodiversity’ website. This includes biodiversity management plan templates, monitoring guides and regionally specific information.

Visit the farming with native biodiversity website

Last updated: Mar 2024

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