A view of the Catlins area
Image: Glen Howey | ©


Every few years DOC consults the public on trends, risks and opportunities for conservation. This informs our Long-Term Insights Briefing which helps to guide future planning.

Long-Term Insight Briefings (LTIBs) are a way for New Zealanders to support future thinking in government.

LTIBs identify issues that matter to our wellbeing and that of Aotearoa New Zealand.  They then analyse and explore how we could respond to them.

Briefings created by this process can help inform decision making across the country, including by government, Māori, business, academia, not-for-profit groups, and more.

DOC and other governmental departments must publish Long-term Insights Briefings at least once every three years. Learn more about LTIB in government.

Long-Term Insights Briefing 2023

DOC and Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) published a shared Long-Term Insights Briefing in March 2023. We shared our Briefing as both have roles and responsibilities for protecting biodiversity across 40 percent of Aotearoa New Zealand’s land.

The 2023 Briefing explores how new technologies can play a role in looking after the biodiversity.

It discusses a variety of tools and how we might adopt them. For example, how to integrate current approaches with new technologies, or use them to build on conservation work in communities.  

We held consultations and workshops on the Briefing topic, and how we could transform our work. This informed the final Briefing which will guide more public discussion and some of our next steps to protect nature.

Read the Long-term Insight Briefing 2023 (PDF, 3,142K)

Technologies explored by our latest Briefing

Many of the tools we use are resource intensive, expensive, and do not cover enough of our land and sea. We also face other barriers, such as a lack of data and clarity in how we measure outcomes.

Any new tools we use must be safe, affordable and scalable. The data collected by them must also be accurate, accessible and, where possible, reusable. They must support iwi and those carrying out conservation work at all levels.

There are technologies that could improve the health of our wildlife and natural spaces, the work we do to protect it and meet these criteria. In our 2023 Briefing, we discuss three areas that could help:

  • remote sensing
  • artificial intelligence and data-driven technologies
  • genetic technologies.

A summary of each area is given below. For a full analysis including case studies and considerations, view the Briefing document (PDF, 3,142K)

Remote sensing

Remote sensing is the act of gaining information about objects or areas from a distance. Often this is from satellites, aircraft, or drones. They also include tools like GPS and radar.

We discussed and explored the use of drones and similar tools with the public. Such as how they could support species monitoring and pest control across large, remote, or difficult to access areas.

We also discussed satellite and LIDAR (light detection and ranging) imagery. These tools could enable more accurate monitoring and mapping of our landscape and land use changes.  

Many of the tools that enable remote sensing to have become more widely used, cheaper, smaller, and now have better data and image capture. Some are also becoming smaller.

In time, they could improve and automate gathering the data we need to monitor wildlife health. Some, like smaller GPS transmitters, could also help us learn more about smaller species.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and data-driven technologies

AI are computer systems or software that can perform tasks that normally require a person to do. We explored the value of AI and data driven technologies in providing insights into the natural world.

AI can analyse large quantities of data faster and more accurately than people can. This makes it possible to increase the monitoring we do and speed up our efforts to protect and restore species.

Tools using AI can also span a range of sources and formats, such as data gathered by individuals and communities. This can unite the data of more ongoing conservation work. It could also help to train AI systems to improve the analysis of emerging trends for threatened wildlife.

Feedback from the public showed that New Zealanders thought AI was one of the technologies with the most promise to support biodiversity efforts. As long as it was data-enabled, safe and transparent.

Genetic technologies

Genetic technologies refer to any tool that aims to examine, make, or adapt genetic material – such as DNA. This material is found in the cells of all living things. It carries information about its characteristics and functions.

These allow us to examine the genetic material of plants, animals and bacteria. In recent years, this has provided clues on how we might edit genes to promote health and combat disease.

We could also apply them to samples taken from the environment to create a more detailed picture of our wildlife and their ecosystems than ever before.

The Briefing discusses a range of different ways these technologies could be applied. This is to support public debate on how and why they might be used.

Gene editing can be a sensitive topic, especially in relation to taonga species. But submitters suggested in their feedback that they may be worth reviewing for pests such as rats and possums.

How the public had their say on the Briefing

We took several steps to engage with the public and create the final Long-Term Insights Briefing for 2023:

Step 1: Work understand the drivers and trends in biodiversity

We worked with a range of experts inside and outside of government. This work showed technology was an important driver that could be game-changing for biodiversity protection.

Step 2: Consultation to agree the briefing topic

In October 2021, we consulted on the proposed topic for the briefing: ‘How can innovation in the way we use information and emerging technology help biodiversity thrive?’

Most submissions supported the topic. However, submitters also noted the need for:

  • understanding the risks of using technologies,
  • good governance and decision-making to support its use.

Step 3: Workshops to develop ideas

In March 2022, we held a futures-thinking workshop. We used a scenario-sketching tool to produce options for potential futures. We also created a log of risks and opportunities.

The most common insight was that the systems that support the use of technology and information have a huge impact on its success or failure.

Step 4: Refining the topic and consultation on the briefing draft

Based on consultation feedback, we refined the proposed topic to: How can we help biodiversity thrive through the innovative use of information and emerging technologies?

We prepared a draft LTIB for consultation using insights from earlier consultation, workshop, and research. The feedback showed the opportunities that may be found in a selection of emerging technologies.

Feedback was gathered through online survey and email. Submitters could answer some or all of 14 questions to guide their responses or provide free-form comments.

Step 5: Final Briefing launched

The responses to the second consultation provided valuable feedback on the draft Briefing. The draft was updatedand strengthened to reflect the submissions received. 

Three areas to transform our work stood out as having strong promise for conservation. These are detailed in the final briefing with a look at their current state, future uses, benefits, and limitations.

Ministers presented the final Long-Term Insight Briefing to Parliament on 29 March 2023.

It has been referred to the Governance and Administrative select committee for examination. They will report back to Parliament about the LTIB by 11 August 2023.

DOC and LINZ are now likely to engage further with the public on this topic to plan the next steps.

Read more about the process (PDF, 754K)

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