15 Nov 2013

NZ sites make world biodiversity list

9:23 am on 15 November 2013

An international team of scientists has identified two areas in New Zealand as being "exceptionally irreplaceable" when it comes to protecting biodiversity.

Researchers writing in the journal Science have picked 78 protected areas around the globe as the most critical for preventing the extinction of mammals, birds and amphibians.

The scientists chose two of New Zealand's three Unesco World Heritage Sites: Te Wahipounamu and the Sub-Antarctic Islands.

Te Wahipounamu, which includes Westland and Fiordland, is home to the takahe, kakapo and the rowi, the rarest species of kiwi.

The Sub-Antarctic Islands provide nesting sites for hundreds of thousands of seabirds, and the waters surrounding them harbour the endangered New Zealand sea lion.

The researchers hope identifying these two spots and the other 76 sites around the world will focus global conservation efforts where they will be most effective.

One of the authors, Ana Rodrigues, says her team's next step is to study how well each conservation area is managed.