Conservation week – wetlands and kokako

There is a perceived conflict between the environment and the economy. John Key often talks about balance but the reality as we all know is somewhat different. Personally I, like many New Zealanders am happy to protect areas like the Whangamarino wetland just because there are special. Some members of our society want to take a more “balanced” approach though. I still struggle with understanding what they mean by balanced. Exactly what is their goal apart from trying to satisfy as many people as possible at the same time?

Much of New Zealand’s conservation land survived because it was unsuitable for “development” into productive land. Unfortunately our lowland wetlands – of which 90% have already been drained – make for good pasture once drained. Rich and diverse habitats wetlands play an important role. Acting as filters to our rivers – something which is severely needed currently – wetlands also play a role as a buffer for floods. Able to absorb large amounts of water a wetland can be an important part of a flood protection scheme. For example the Whangamarino is part of a flood protection scheme on the lower Waikato. With the changing climate that we face more frequent, more damaging flood events are a certainty for much of the country. While I hesitate to talk about killing birds, the opportunity to rescue or return some of our lowland wetlands with both flood protection and water filtration benefits seems to me a no brainer.

While the weather might restrict outdoor conservation pursuits this weekend to the hardy few there are indoor events happening this weekend so check out www.conservationweek.org.nz for more details. While Russel might be championing the Kokako (and a Pureora National Park) for the Forest and Bird, Bird of the year that doesn’t mean that you can’t with a clear conscience check out the Unnatural History of the Kakapo. There are screenings happening around the country. If the rain does keep you inside over the weekend I can recommend checking out nzonscreen.com. They have some great old documentaries about our wonderful native treasures.

5 thoughts on “Conservation week – wetlands and kokako

  1. “There is a perceived conflict between the environment and the economy. John Key often talks about balance but the reality as we all know is somewhat different”

    I think this is because the implication is always that the environment needs to be balanced with the economy whereas in fact the economy needs to balance upon the environment…

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  2. The destruction of our wetlands is one of NZ’s greatest environmental tragedies, one that the late ecologist and writer Geoff Park lamented in his many essays on the subject.
    For intelligent but very readable short articles on the history of wetland transformation and some rare and valuable wetland remnants in NZ, visit http://envirohistorynz.wordpress.com see especially http://wp.me/pI1lN-6w http://wp.me/pI1lN-nD and http://wp.me/pI1lN-6J

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  3. I’d like to follow on from your comment,
    Much of New Zealand’s conservation land survived because it was unsuitable for “development” into productive land.

    To the pioneers, any nascent environmental concerns could be dismissed with a “hey, it’s all pretty much the same shade of green, and we’re leaving plenty untouched in the higher and steeper places”. Thus the distinctive ecosystems in the low, flat places were mostly destroyed.

    Well this fallacy has been repeated very recently, under the sea. In an exchange I had a few years ago with Andrew Talley, he downplayed the harm that bottom-trawling of seamounts was doing to marine biodiversity by quoting the relatively small percentage of the area of seamounts that are shallow and low angled enough to make bottom-trawling possible. This justification relies on the assumption that the same species exist in those places as in the deeper, steeper places. I’m not a marine biologist, but I’m pretty sure that assumption is false.

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  4. The Awarua/Waituna wetland area has benefited greatly from funding the Greens gained some years ago. DOC have been extremely grateful for this funding as it has enabled pivotal wetland research, the construction of public facilities, and building very worthwhile relationships with local farmers and the wider community. These projects have been all about putting the environment first and gaining public and business support in realizing them. For those who have been criticizing the Green’s lack of environmental advocacy this is a very tangible example of our success in this area.
    http://www.greens.org.nz/events/awaruawaituna-wetland-ramsar-extension
    http://www.wetland.go.kr/en/RamsarBook/html/OCEANIA_Zealand.html

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