Key Points:

The New Zealand environment is more khaki than pure green, says a report assessing air, water and land quality and the health of plants, birds and animals.

The Environment New Zealand 2007 report was released today, a follow up to the first State of the New Zealand Environment report in 1997.

The 450-page report found pressures on the environment were increasing from a growing population, economy and changing lifestyles.

Some things such as recycling had improved, it said.

Environment minister Trevor Mallard said the report was a timely check up.

"This report shows that together we have made significant improvements in some areas. But there are areas where we need to do other things better, to protect our clean green reputation. We simply cannot afford to be complacent," Mr Mallard said.

He said New Zealand's reputation as clean and green was important to the country's economy.

"This report is a valuable measuring tool which will guide us in policy work and decision making so we can continue to leverage off our valuable natural resources and maintain the kiwi lifestyle, in a way that is sustainable and internationally competitive," Mr Mallard said.

Key findings:

* greenhouse gas emissions continued to increase;

* agricultural land use had intensified with negative side effects, including greenhouse gas emissions and reduced water quality;

* New Zealanders were consuming more goods, driving more cars more often - cars tended to be larger and older - and using more energy;

* native species remained in danger.

There were positives:

* More people were using public transport;

* energy use growth was at a lower rate than economic growth;

* waste management systems and recycling had improved;

* ozone levels had stabilised and ultra violet levels had dropped;

* more land and waters were protected, and pest management had made a difference to some native species.

Compared to other countries, the environment was very good but New Zealand needed to focus on the quality of resources which gave it a competitive edge internationally, the Environment Ministry said after releasing the report.

- NZPA