Last week Conservation International published its list of the world’s ten most threatened forest hotspots, where biodiversity and endemism is high and less than 10% of the original habitat is remaining. New Zealand was, somewhat shockingly, number 2 on their list. I must admit I thought this was a little odd – especially as their list claims we have only 5% of our forest (which is listed as tropical and subtropical broadleaf forest) remaining – and well, it turns out the folks at Conservation International were a little confused.
Apparently New Zealand was confused with New Caledonia, and is actually ranked number 22 on the list, with 22% of its original forest cover remaining. Easy mistake to make, I guess (although the folks over at Kiwiblog of course think its all a big conspiracy of the part of the Greens).
So its not quite as alarming as we thought, but this is no reason to be complacent about the state of our forests. A timely bit of research published online in the journal Science last week shows how even small changes in the makeup of our forests, like extinction of one or two key species, can have a cascading effect on biodiversity. I’m not sure that it matters whether we are number 2 or 22 on Conservation International’s list, when we still have one of the worst records of biodiversity loss in the world.