Natural Environment Indicators (what we measure)
Our ‘Natural Environment’ means our native ecosystems, such as wetlands, lakes, bush, forests and geothermal areas. It includes both the physical and biological components of natural areas.
Before human settlement, the district was covered in indigenous vegetation. The Kopuatai Peat Dome made up the majority of this vegetation. It stretched from the Hauraki Gulf to Matamata and from the Kaimais to the Western Ranges. The Matamata-Piako natural environment contains outstanding natural features; in some cases, these are of national and international significance.
The Kaimai Ranges are considered to be the most outstanding natural feature in the district.
- The Hinuera Valley is an important regional feature due to its rarity and landscape features.
- The Kopuatai Peat Dome is the only true peat/dome/restaid bog remaining intact in New Zealand. As well as the largest remaining freshwater wetland left in the North Island, it is the best example of its kind in New Zealand. It supports a vegetation type that is internationally unique.
The primary activity affecting our natural environment is changes in land use such as land drainage, bush clearing, subdivision and development.
The health of our native plants and animals is also threatened by predation and competition from introduced species. 69 regional plant pests and 35 animal species to be managed were identified in the Waikato Regional Pest Management Plan 2014-2024. The Plan includes five groupings of plant pests, and a table of animal pests that hold a production, environmental or public threat. The Waikato Regional Council will directly control and manage some pests and will provide advice and assistance for others.
Plant pests include Manchurian wild rice (particularly in the Piako and Waihou rivers), Noongoora bur, and the Water poppy. Moth plant, Nodding thistle and Pampas are also significant plant pests in the district. Some of the animal pests damaging our natural environment include possums, feral goats, feral cats and mustelids such as ferrets and stoats.