Auckland's population lives on a narrow isthmus of land surrounded by two magnificent harbours, Waitemata and Manukau, and two outstanding forest blocks, Waitakere and Hunua.

At this interface biodiversity abounds, and if Darwin had enjoyed himself more during his brief visit to New Zealand on HMS Beagle he may well have written The Origin of Species about us.

For example over 80 seabird species, sentinels of the ocean, have been found in the Hauraki Gulf, more than any other place in the world.

The abundance of plant species, both native and naturalised, add diversity to the region, from backyard gardens to forest fragments scattered throughout the urban landscape.


It is no wonder that people are flocking to such a city that contends to be the most liveable in the world. From land to sea the ecosystems are connected and draw people to live and recreate in, on and around the Auckland region, its biodiversity indelibly etching itself into memories for a lifetime.

However, we must be mindful of the ongoing pervasive threats to the environment, so as to avoid the region's death by a thousand cuts. Rogue pest plants, intentional felling of native trees, new unwelcome pests, catchment pollution and sediment run-off, and poorly planned urban sprawl are but a number of the issues.

As Auckland's growth outstrips the rest of New Zealand, the pressure on our environment will continue to increase, but so too do the opportunities for a liveable city where every inhabitant is engaged in the environment's well-being as well as their own.

Already thousands of Aucklanders faithfully participate every weekend in conservation and restoration projects, showing it is possible to create liveable space for both humans and other plants and animals to coexist.

The North-West Wildlink corridor connects the ranges of the Waitakeres to the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, where over half the island groups are Treasure Islands; predator-free refuges for native species.

In the future the natural narrow boundary that Auckland provides could well protect the entirety of Northland from pest reinvasion.

One does not have to wander far in Auckland to find diversity, of culture, and of nature.

There are over 1,500 species found in the Auckland Domain alone, and in the wider Auckland region 20 per cent of New Zealand's threatened terrestrial vertebrates and plants can be found.


Let's save some land for these species too.

• Dr James Russell is an ecologist based at the University of Auckland's School of Biological Sciences.