Threatened Environment Classification (TEC tool)


The Threatened Environment Classification Tool was created to make LENZ (Land Environments of New Zealand) accessible to key biodiversity managers. It is an extension to LENZ that enables users to identify land environments in which remaining indigenous biodiversity is substantially reduced and poorly protected. It provides a consistent, objective and readily accessible tool to inform:

  1. The assessment of significance (i.e. by the primary significance criterion of representativeness)
  2. Identification of priorities for protection of indigenous biodiversity
  3. Reporting of biodiversity protection achievements.


The Threatened Environment Classification is an interactive GIS tool which helps planners identify and set a value on New Zealand‘s threatened environments. Landcare Research has produced a Threatened Environments tool for identifying environments with much reduced indigenous ecosystems. The tool was developed with end-users including Department of Conservation (DOC), Ministry for the Environment (MfE), Land Information New Zealand, regional councils and the QEII National Trust. Threatened Environments is an add-on to LENZ (Land Environments of New Zealand), an MfE funded software product by Landcare Research that combines information on land environments, land cover, protected areas and similar information at a range of scales, from national to local. Threatened Environments shows at a glance how much of any environment remains in native cover and how much is protected – key criteria in determining the significance of remaining indigenous vegetation. It also assigns environments to one of five categories ranging from acutely threatened to not threatened. The tool can display loss and protection statistics for any area or point, assess priorities for protection and conservation management, and report on biodiversity achievements.

Latest Version 1
State of Development Please Select
Current Development Activity There is no guarantee that there will be an update to the Threatened Environment Classification. It cannot be repeated in the future unless further full national updates of the land cover database are produced using satellite imagery taken over as short a time period as possible (e.g., single summer). The Threatened Environment Classification may be improved by updating the version of the Protected Area Network of New Zealand, including the valid information on protected areas provided by local authorities.

Development Contact

Ellen Cieraad
+64 3 321 9827
Landcare Research
P.O. Box 40
Lincoln 7640,
New Zealand

Main Developers

  • Landcare Research


Outcome Areas Economic, Environmental
Management Domains Land, Biodiversity
Subdomains Ecosystem/Habitat, Native biodiversity & Biodiversity Loss
Intended End Users Regional Councils, central government agencies, trusts involved in conservation, distric councils and unitary authorities, ecological consultancies and environmental NGOs.
Spatial Resolutions 10-100m
Spatial Extents National
Spatial Dimensions 2D
Temporal Resolutions Not applicable
Temporal Extents Not applicable
Steady State or Dynamic Steady State
Level of Integration Environmental, Economic

Input & Output Data

Key Input Data Land Cover • Protected Area Network NZ (PAN-NZ) & Land Environments New Zealand (LENZ)
Input Data Formats ASCI, GIS compatible files, Test File(s)
Key Output Data Extent of loss of native vegetation
Output Data Formats a map


Open/Closed Source Open Source
Licence Type No Licence
Licence Cost
(Non Commercial)
Licence Cost

User Information

Operating Systems MS Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Dos executable
Software Needed Internet explorer or any form of GIS
User Interface Please Select None, layer in GIS, or visualised using OurEnvironment tool
Ease of Use Easy Easy, if visualised in use Landcare Research online GIS tool “OurEnvironment”. If using in a GIS of course GIS knowledge is required.
Use in Policy Process Plan (Policy Formulation), Do (Policy Implementation), Check (Policy Evaluation), Review (Issue Identification)

Walker, S., Cieraad, E., Grove, P., Lloyd, K., Myers, S., Park, T. and Porteous, T. (2007). Guide for Users of the Threatened Environment Classification -

Support TEC Home Page -
Users Forum None

Technical Considerations

Programming Language NA
Methods included for calibration and validation None
Methods included for managing uncertainty None
Analytical Techniques Input/output, GIS
Model Structure

Overlay of LENZ lvl 4 environments, native vegetation (determined by a binary exotic/indigenous classification of the LCDB2 landcover classes), and areas protected for biodiversity reasons – together provide for every LENZ lvl4 environment the extent of native vegetation remaining and extent protected.

Keywords LENZ, biodiversity, threatened, land environments

TEC Home Page -

Key References

Walker, S., R. Price, D. Rutledge, R. T. T. Stephens, and W.G. Lee. (2006). Recent loss of indigenous cover in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 30: 169–177 -

Leathwick, J.R.; Wilson, G.; Rutledge, D.; Wardle, P.; Morgan, F.; Johnston, K.; McLeod, M.; Kirkpatrick, R. 2003: Land environments of New Zealand. David Bateman, Auckland, New Zealand.

Associated Case Studies

TEC - West Coast Region, New Zealand

The Threatened Environment Classification Tool (TEC) is a freely available simple and practical GIS too which is an extension of the Land Environments of New Zealand (LENZ) Classification; it has been used in this case study to assess the status of threatened environments on the west coast of New Zealand.


Other Key Case Studies

Many regional councils are using the TEC tool to communicate biodiversity protection issues and priorities to the public, including biodiversity strategies (e.g., Canterbury Biodiversity Strategy led by Environment Canterbury), and state of the environment reporting (e.g., Greater Wellington State of the Environment Report 2005).

The tool has been incorporated in (draft) Regional Policy Statements in several regions around the country (including Auckland Horizons, Wellington, Waikato, Southland, Canterbury).

The first two categories of the Threatened Environment Classification have been adopted as National Priority 1 in the government’s non-statutory Statement of National Priorities for protecting rare and threatened native biodiversity on private land (April 2007).

This has resulted in a wide uptake of TEC, and regional and district councils use these national priorities to address their biodiversity responsibilities.