The effect of personal memory on environmental consciousness

One of many scenes of devastation in the aftermath of Cyclone Bola.
One of many scenes of devastation in the aftermath of Cyclone Bola.

I have often wondered why I am so interested in the link between deforestation, flooding and erosion. I put it down to my love of forested environments, and therefore my interest in the history of these environments. But it has occurred to me that it is perhaps more than this – that it relates also to personal memory, of an event in the environmental history of my lifetime.

That event was Cyclone Bola, which hit the east coast of the North Island in March 1988, when I was a teenager. Continue reading

Why is understanding our environmental history so important?

When we travel through New Zealand’s countryside, very few of us recognise that much – if not most – of the “nature” we see around us is not “natural” to this land. The grass pastures of our farms, the ubiquitous stands of macracarpa or poplars, the willows along our river banks, and the vast expanses of radiata pine forest – all of these landscapes have been created by our forebears using introduced exotic species. But, irrespective of whether the trees and plants that make up the landscape are indigenous or exotic, many people find our rural landscapes attractive and a source of pleasure – so why should it matter? Continue reading