Zealandia in Wellington, New Zealand

Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne is the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary. This sanctuary is dedicated to reinstating the forest and freshwater ecosystems to their pre-human state. Spanning 225 hectares (over 500 acres), the groundbreaking conservation project has successfully reintroduced 18 native wildlife species, some of which had been absent from mainland New Zealand for over a century.

Before human presence, Aotearoa (New Zealand) stood isolated and distinct. Over the past 700 years, human activity and the introduction of mammals nearly decimated endemic species, which evolved without the need for defenses against mammals over millions of years. Since human settlement, at least 60+ bird, frog, lizard, fish, bat, plant, and invertebrate species have succumbed to extinction.

 Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne intends to restore the valley to its pre-human state, protected by an 8.6km fence that serves as a barrier against introduced mammalian predators. As a result, native birds like the tūī, kākā, and kererū, once rare in the region, have now become commonplace sights in central Wellington. Meanwhile, vulnerable species such as tīeke, hihi, little spotted kiwi, and tuatara thrive securely within the sanctuary, safeguarded from external threats.

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