What is forest?

The excellent UK site History and Policy carries a paper by Ben Cowell, written earlier this year, in the wake of the UK government’s proposal to sell off much of the public forest estate. There was a public outcry, which appeared to take the government by surprise. Cowell suggests that had policy-makers been more aware of the history of contestation regarding rights and access to forest, the government would not only have been more prepared, but may also have formulated its proposal differently. Continue reading

Forests: why they are vital to our environment and economy

Tomorrow (June 5) is World Environment Day, and this year’s theme is Forests. This short animated film, narrated by David Attenborough, explains the role forests play in our global economy and environment, as well as outlining the threats our forests face.

See also: Destruction of our forests over time.

Impacts of the Maori on the environment

Much of the material on this site focuses on the impacts of European settlers on the New Zealand environment. But of course the environment was neither untouched nor pristine when organised European settlement began in the 19th century. As can be seen in the forest cover diagrams in the earlier post, Destruction of our forests over time, the Maori also had a significant impact on New Zealand’s forests, albeit over a much longer period of time (centuries as opposed to years). Between the beginning of Polynesian settlement in New Zealand around the fourteenth century and the beginning of organised European colonisation in the nineteenth century, it is estimated that forest cover was reduced by about half, largely through fire. Continue reading