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How state highways can affect the natural environment

Constructing, maintaining and operating the state highway network consumes large quantities of fossil fuels, raw materials and other resources resulting in consumption of non-renewable resources, emissions of harmful and greenhouse gases, use of landfill space, and loss of productive materials. These activities can adversely affect terrestrial, aquatic and coastal ecology in a number of ways including:

  • Altering the physical environment. This can be through direct ways such as habitat loss through construction or more gradual effects such as alteration of soil density, light, surface water flow and patterns of runoff.
  • Altering the chemical environment, through chemical spills or runoff containing pollutants that enter the ground or water.
  • Modifying animal behaviour such as fragmenting and isolating populations and communities, interrupting gene flow, and making species more susceptible to collision mortality and predation.
  • Spreading exotic pest species.
  • Wildlife mortality during construction and operation of a state highway.

What we’re doing to protect the natural environment

We work to make sure we’re protecting the natural environment by:

  • assessing and mitigating the ecological impacts of our work
  • using best-practice sediment and erosion control
  • protecting water bodies through stormwater management
  • reducing the effects of spills
  • using resources and energy efficiently
  • collaborating with others on environmental and social issues
  • maintaining fish passage in our streams and rivers
  • lessening the effects associated with the construction, operation and maintenance of state highways to effect a net reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from transport
  • conducting environmental and social responsibility research
  • requiring contractors to have in place an Environmental and Social Management Plan prior to undertaking any construction or maintenance works.

Technical information

The technical information that employees, contractors and suppliers of the NZ Transport Agency need to be aware of to complete tasks and projects can be found on the Highways Information Portal(external link). We have a number of pages dedicated to specific environmental subjects so our consultants, contractors and other partners can easily access our standard, tools, and resources.

Resource efficiency(external link)
Air quality and climate(external link)
Environmental and social management plans