NEMS for Freshwater Periphyton and Macroinvertebrates
The need for nationally consistent monitoring of our freshwater resources has never been stronger, a point hammered home with the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s release of Focusing Aotearoa New Zealand’s environmental reporting system in November 2019. The National Environmental Monitoring Standards (NEMS) is one initiative that is helping to improve the consistency and robustness of environmental monitoring. After an initial focus on hydrological and water quality monitoring standards, new draft standards on the collection and processing of periphyton and macroinvertebrate samples were released for comment in late 2020. These standards focus primarily on long-term State of the Environment monitoring in wadeable reaches of rivers but also provide guidance on sampling under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM) and in relation to resource consents. Both standards were prepared by a multi-agency team comprising experienced science and monitoring staff across regional councils, crown research institutes and commercial laboratories. The standards revisit and will supersede existing sampling periphyton and macroinvertebrate protocols prepared by Biggs and Kilroy (2000) and Stark et al. (2001), respectively. They present protocols for: sample point selection, visit metadata, sampling equipment, on-site measurements, sample collection and handling, laboratory processing, and data quality assurance (QA) and archiving. A matrix-style scoring system is included to enable a quality code to be assigned to individual periphyton sample measurements and macroinvertebrate metrics, taking into account key aspects of sample measurement/collection and laboratory processing that have the potential to influence data quality. This presentation will highlight the importance of these standards in relation to the mandatory requirement enshrined in the NPS-FM that all rivers (and lakes) are managed for ecosystem health and briefly overview some of the key requirements of each standard.