“Electric landscapes” and other perspectives from Environment & Nature in NZ

Huntly mapThe latest issue of Environment and Nature in New Zealand is now out, and can be downloaded here.

This issue is replete with interesting articles and reviews:

Jo Whittle, ‘Into the backyard: Huntly Power Station and the history of environmentalism in New Zealand’.

Ian Tyrrell, ‘Review Essay: Bernhard Gissibl, Sabine Höhler and Patrick Kupper (editors), Civilizing Nature: National Parks in Global Historical Perspective’. Continue reading

What has become of the “great naturalists”?

I have been reading about the debate and discussion related to forest destruction and preservation in the latter half of the 19th century, and what strikes me most about this debate is the character of the men that took part in it. These were the likes of  William Travers (1819 – 1903, lawyer, politician, naturalist and explorer), Thomas Potts (1824 – 1888, politician and naturalist), Charles Heaphy (surveyor, artist, explorer, soldier, politician), Harry Ell (1862–1934, politician, soldier, conservationist) and Leonard Cockayne (1855 -1934, botanist). Continue reading

The place of an echo: Pūtaringamotu (Deans Bush)

When Europeans began arriving in the Canterbury region in the early 1800s, most of the swamp forest – dominated by matai, totara and kahikatea (white pine) – that covered much of the Canterbury Plains in previous centuries was gone. It is thought that it had been destroyed by a great fire that swept across the plains during the moa hunter period, leaving only a scattered bush remnants. Continue reading

Kapiti Island – an environmental history “microcosm” – Part 2

In 1870, Kapiti was identified by naturalists as a possible site for a bird sanctuary. But it was over a quarter of a century before the Kapiti Island Public Reserve Act (1897) was passed, and the island became a reserve.

Remnant forest, scrubland and previously farmed land was left to regenerate (except for one remaining farm at Waiorua, which continued to be farmed until the 1950s). However, nothing was done to eradicate the introduced species – cattle, goats, sheep, and possums (which had been introduced in 1893 – only four years before Kapiti became a reserve), and these animals kept regeneration of the forest in check through their constant browsing. Continue reading