New Zealand is "flying blind" when it comes to information about the country’s environment, according to a new report.
The environmental watchdog has found huge gaps in data about what's happening on New Zealand’s land and to its water.
“If you don't have good quality information, then you are flying in the dark to some extent,” said Simon Upton, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.
The report shows that land use in New Zealand is one area which is lacking hard data.
“We are using the land for so many of our industries, we're covering it with cities, but we don't have any joined up national system for monitoring land use change,” said Mr Upton.
When it comes to species, the report highlights there are still thousands to be identified.
“We're losing species we didn't even know we had. Clearly if you don't have good data on where you are and if you're not producing forward look outlooks then you're running the risk of poorly designed policies,” said Murray Petrie with the Institute of Governance and Policy Studies at Victoria University.
One problem the report points out are the many laws and requirements for environmental monitoring which are carried out by diverse organisations - all using different methods and measures.
For example, some of New Zealand’s rivers are monitored by NIWA, while others are monitored by regional councils.
The commissioner wants an overhaul.
“I want to get it done in a consistent way. I want the coverage to be appropriate nationally and I want it to be able to be interpreted in a useful way,” said Mr Upton.
Environment Minister David Parker believes there should be action but accepts there is a need to fix the data caps and that action has already started on stricter freshwater monitoring.
"Although he's right we need to do better, it's also true we've got enough data to act now and we shouldn't be waiting for absolute perfect data before acting.”