Wealth in the natural environment refers to all aspects of the natural environment needed to support life and human activity, and is valued for spiritual, cultural, and economic reasons.
Most New Zealanders continue to enjoy a high level of environmental quality. However, there are long-standing issues that persist. In Environment Aotearoa 2022, the Ministry for the Environment reports that the key environmental issues facing New Zealand are long term and unlikely to manifest or be solved in the short term. For example, while New Zealand's air quality continues to improve from an already good condition, freshwater sources continue to be degraded in areas transformed by human activities. Twenty-year trends show improvements in nitrogen and phosphorous concentrations for river quality in some sites, and worsening trends in others.
Environment Aotearoa 2022 also highlights the complex impacts of climate change on our natural environment, and in particular our marine environments through ocean acidification and increased sea-surface temperatures. Rainfall patterns are also changing and this, along with warming temperatures, is increasing short-term drought frequency and threatening native ecosystems and agricultural production.