New Zealand faces a "huge challenge" in reversing the decline of its native species, a new report card finds.

The country's sixth national report to the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity set out where conservation efforts were succeeding – and where they were failing - against set targets.

It showed improvements in how biodiversity was being accounted for in planning processes, along with more areas protected under covenants and greater public awareness.

But it also made it clear that much more effort was required.


Terrestrial and aquatic environments continued to face "significant pressures", and restoration programmes had not yet delivered significant improvements, the report said.

Thousands of native plant and wildlife species remained threatened or at risk of extinction.

Of the 3917 species classified as threatened and at risk, 927 have been assessed only once so there was no information on changing conservation status.

Of the remaining 2990 species, 95 had improved their status since they were previously assessed - and 316 had moved into a worse status.

Just 24 species were assessed as having actually improved since they were previously assessed, and populations of 87 species declined to the extent that they were assessed in a worse category than before.

Further, just 0.4 per cent of New Zealand's marine and coastal area was covered by the strictest international definition of 100 per cent "no-take" marine reserves.

The report also noted how nearly 30 per cent of New Zealand's marine and coastal area was protected in some way, if other measures such as specific fishing restrictions were considered.

Forest & Bird's marine advocate, Anton Van Helden, said the report highlighted a "glaring lack of progress" in the marine space, especially compared to the terrestrial realm.


International targets that New Zealand set in 2011, and which were supposed to be reached by next year, of fully protecting 10 per cent of the marine estate was not likely to be achieved with progress as it was.

"And there is a widening gap between our achievements, and the expectations of other nations," Van Helden said.

There were, however, positive signs to build from, the report found, including progress on some important initiatives.

Those included the development of a new Biodiversity Strategy, which would set a vision and guide our biodiversity management work for the next 20 years, along with work on a new National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage also noted the Government had invested an extra $76 million in the Department of Conservation.

In the marine space, the Government was committed to setting up a representative network of marine protected areas around the country, she said.


Elsewhere, ministers were currently considering the recommendations of the South-East Marine Protection Forum, as well as establishing an advisory committee to oversee a spatial plan for the under-pressure Hauraki Gulf.

"I'm particularly pleased that the report identifies a wealth of conservation initiatives and work being delivered outside of central government," Sage said.

"The report is a valuable resource for people wanting to understand what work is being done on biodiversity across New Zealand."

Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said the report highlighted the depth of the crisis affecting our nature – and "the huge task that we all face in turning that around".

The group was grateful for the Government's cash boost for nature, and acknowledged that it wanted to do more.

"We welcome the news that Government is intending to prioritise better marine protection – what we have now is woefully inadequate, and progress not nearly fast enough."