When we encounter the extensive tussocklands of the eastern South Island [see below right], it is hard to imagine any other landscape in that place – so much a part of the “natural” New Zealand landscape have they become. Yet, as explored in a previous post What is natural? The tussocklands of Lindis Pass, this is in fact a human-induced landscape; the tussocklands have replaced podocarp and beech forest [see left] that once covered the South Island. However, this occurred long before any written history was established, and this environmental history has had to be pieced together through painstaking paleoenvironmental research.

New ground-breaking research, undertaken by an team of both New Zealand and international scientists, has determined how, to what extent, and over what time-frame large tracts of South Island forest were destroyed. (more…)

Of all the beautiful landscape photos that highly accomplished photographer and friend Rainer Kant took while he lived in New Zealand, this must be one of my favourites. What is particularly striking about this landscape is that (more…)

Jeanette Fitzsimons, former co-leader of the Green Party, resigned from Parliament in February this year, after a long and influential political and academic career.  envirohistory NZ thought it would be a good opportunity to ask Jeanette about the major shifts she has observed over the last four decades in the way we as New Zealanders view our environment.

In her response to this question, Jeanette highlights three themes: attitudes towards nuclear power, indigenous forestry and farming.

(more…)

Two environmental histories converge in one landscape. In the foreground is the stunningly beautiful Lake Rotoroa, one of the two lakes in Nelson Lakes National Park, surrounded by wetland vegetation, transitioning into beech forest. In the background is a commercial pine plantation, with one slope scarred by clear-cutting. Nelson Lakes National Park, established in 1956, encompasses 102,000 hectares of the northern most Southern Alps. The lakes were formed by massive glaciers gouging out troughs in the mountainous headwaters of the Buller River during the last Ice Age. The vegetation is predominantly beech, with the red and silver species growing in lower, warmer sites and mountain beech at higher altitudes. The forests are habitat to South Island kaka (a large parrot), tomtits, robins and the tiny rifleman, New Zealand’s smallest bird.

[Photo: Lake Rotoroa, Nelson Lakes National Park, by Rainer Kant]

[Source: Department of Conservation]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 390 other followers