Freshwater Ecosystems of New Zealand (FENZ)


FENZ consists of a large set of spatial data layers and supporting information on New Zealand's rivers, lakes and wetlands. The database aims to support decision making on freshwater ecosystem and biodiversity management by providing a consistent,  robust national dataset for a range of freshwater ecosystems attributes.


The Freshwater Ecosystems of NZ (FENZ) geo-database provides an independent, national representation of the biodiversity values and pressures on New Zealand's rivers, lakes and wetlands. It had its origins in the Waters of National Importance (WONI) component of the Ministry for the Environment's Sustainable Development Programme of Action (2007).

The FENZ database builds a robust, objective picture of New Zealand’s freshwater with the aim of supporting and informing decisions around conservation and freshwater ecosystem management. It represents a whole-of-government approach to the management of New Zealand’s freshwater resources.

FENZ is a large set of spatial data layers and supporting information on New Zealand's rivers, lakes and wetlands. It contains data gathered from a wide variety of sources. It can be used to objectively map and quantify various aspects of New Zealand's freshwater.

It provides a comprehensive descriptions of the physical environment and biological character of freshwater ecosystems and established classifications that group together rivers and streams, lakes and wetlands having similar ecological character.

Data is also provided on estimates of human pressures and impacts on biodiversity status, and rankings of biodiversity value that indicate a minimum set of sites that would provide representative protection of a fullrange of freshwater ecosystems while taking account of both human pressures and connectivity


Examples of FENZ outputs (after Leathwick, et, al. 2010)

 FENZ has been used both by DOC and by other agencies in the management of freshwater resources. For example: 

  • Data describing the distribution and condition of wetlands has been invaluable in helping DOC staff identify significant wetland values on the South Island's West Coast as part of their broader input to a new Regional Plan.
  • Staff from the Greater Wellington Regional Council are exploring use of the river and stream classification as a framework for regional-scale management. 
  • Waikato Regional Council staff are using both the ecosystem classification and predictions of the distributions of freshwater species to guide the identification of sites requiring remedial action.

Latest Version V1.0
State of Development Released and final

Development Contact

Dave West
Department of Conservation


Outcome Areas Environmental
Management Domains Biodiversity, Freshwater
Intended End Users
  • Regional Council Scientist
  • Researcher
Spatial Resolutions 10-100m
Spatial Extents National
Spatial Dimensions 2D
Steady State or Dynamic Steady State
Level of Integration Environmental

Input & Output Data


Open/Closed Source Open Source

User Information

Operating Systems MS Windows
Software Needed GIS
User Interface Please Select
Ease of Use Please Select
Use in Policy Process Plan (Policy Formulation), Review (Issue Identification)

FENZ - User Guide V1.0

Technical Considerations

Analytical Techniques GIS
Keywords Biodiversity, Freshwater ecosystems

Freshwater Ecosystems geo-database -

Key References

Gay, B. (2013): Freshwater Ecosystems of New Zealand (FENZ) Development Recommendations. EOS Ecological Report No. 12082-DEP01-01. Prepared for Department of Conversation.