Environmental » Healthy Environment

We have clean water, fresh air and healthy soils. Well-functioning and diverse ecosystems make up an environment that can support our needs. Resources are used efficiently. There is minimal waste and pollution.

What is Healthy Environment?

Good air, water and soil quality, and reducing waste are all essential to maintaining a healthy environment and ensuring the sustainability of resources. Water-based recreational activities are part of an outdoor-focused way of life and it is essential that the water is of a high quality. Protecting land through open space covenants also helps maintain ecosystem diversity, along with natural and cultural heritage. Primary land uses such as agriculture, dairying and cropping are key contributors to an economy but they can have a negative influence on the environment. 

16 indicators are used to measure progress towards the healthy environment outcome (defined above). Data relating to each individual indicator (for the 2001 to 2018 period) is provided via the menu below. The healthy environment index (pictured below) shows the composite average of the individual indicators.

As there is only one community outcome under environmental well-being, the same index is applied to both the well-being aspect and the community outcome area.

kapiti island from QEP dune

Healthy environment, 2001-2018

What this means

The healthy environment index increased between 2001 and 2018 by 8.6%.


The index exhibits some fluctuations, exacerbated by indicators such as stream and river health, landfill waste and GHG emissions per capita that, whilst demonstrating improvement when viewed across the entire time series, experienced sharp declines in some years, and notable increases in others.


Key improvements relate to the suitability of marine and freshwater sites for recreation, and the per capita water supply (a measure of sustainable water consumption). Two indicators that have not shown signs of improvement however are soil quality of dairy farm sites and perception of air pollution as a problem.

Did you know?

The GPI counts crime, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, natural resource depletion and soil loss, as costs, not gains, to the economy.

16 Indicators are being used to track Healthy Environment in the Wellington region

Click on each indicator below to access further information

Download Territorial Authority data for these Indicators

Greenhouse gas emissions

Why is this indicator important?

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are emitted through a variety of human activities. Air travel, driving petrol and diesel powered vehicles, using non-renewable electricity from the national grid, harvesting trees and farming animals are some of the activities that generate GHG emissions in the Wellington region. GHG emissions drive climate change and are considered a proxy for resource depletion. Climate change is now widely acknowledged as the most serious environmental challenge of our time and, without stringent and widespread emission reductions, is expected to generate serious economic and social consequences. 

Greenhouse gas emissions per capita, 2001-2015


  • In 2015, in the Wellington region the greenhouse gas emissions per capita were measured at 4.18 tonnes per capita.
  • The rate of emissions has fluctuated since 2001, with a consistent downward trend between 2006 to 2010 then peaking at 4.36 tonnes per capita in 2011. The period 2013-2015 has been a time of relatively stable emission rates.
  • According to the 2014 report, Wellington City, Porirua City, Hutt City, Upper Hutt City and the Kāpiti Coast district, most emissions come from stationary energy and transport, compared to the Wairarapa where most come from agriculture. The main factors in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Wellington region are:
    • more electricity being generated from renewable sources (wind and geothermal),
    • a decline in electricity consumption
    • relatively stable overall consumption of road transport fuels (petrol use has declined while diesel has gone up)
    • landfill gas recovery systems being installed
    • more waste being diverted from landfills
    • waste water treatment changing from oxidation ponds and septic tanks to sludge treatment processes in Kāpiti Coast district
    • a decline in animal stock rates in Wairarapa. 

Greenhouse gas emissions

Definition and data details

Indicator Definition

The net annual emissions of all greenhouse gases divided by the estimated resident population.

Data Source

2016 Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory for Wellington City and the Greater Wellington Region 2000-2015, link to report below.

2016 Community Greenhouse gas Inventory for Wellington city & Wellington region

URS 2014 Greenhouse Gas Inventory for the Wellington Region

Last updated May 2016

This indicator is derived from the 2016 Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory for Wellington City and the Greater Wellington Region 200-20015.. The inventory measures regional greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the following sectors: stationary energy (such as electricity and gas), transport (including domestic aviation), industrial processes (such as gases used in refrigerators and air conditioning systems), agriculture, waste and forestry.


The emissions are expressed as ‘net’ because the inventory takes into account all forests planted for timber production and native forests managed for conservation values.[1] Both the emissions generated when trees are harvested, and the carbon sequestered while trees are growing is taken into account. For more detail, refer to the URS GHG Inventory.


A national comparison is not included because the methodology used to calculate the regional inventory[2] differs from that used to create the national inventory[3]. Both methodologies follow guidelines specified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), but because they measure emissions at differing scales, differing methodologies are applied.

Data for individual TAs is not available, as data was not collected at the TA level for the 2016 report. The previous report, the 2014 Greenhouse Gas Inventory for the Wellington region contains TA level data by sector. Note that for some sectors the methodology used in the 2014 report differs to that of the 2016 report. These changes are explained in the Executive summary of the 2016 report, page (i).

Indicators are updated in May and November each year; for those indicators where new data or survey results have become available.

[1] Only emissions from ‘managed lands’ are included. Due to limited data availability only emissions from forest land and grassland with woody biomass were included (incorporates carbon sequestered in above ground biomass, below ground biomass, dead organic matter and litter). It was assumed that there are no significant changes in the carbon pools of cropland, wetlands, settlements and other land uses.

[2] Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GPC)

[3] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories

While care has been taken in processing, analysing and extracting information, we cannot guarantee that the information is free from error and we shall not be liable for any loss suffered through the use, directly or indirectly, of any information, product or service.