A burning question: what is pastoralism?

I have learned a few things while reading “Seeds of Empire”, by Tom Brooking and Eric Pawson, including the definitions of some terms that crop up a bit in environmental history literature (see also: How did the Korean War change the NZ landscape?). One example of this is in Robert Peden’s essay “Pastoralism and the transformation of open grasslands” (Chapter 5).

Using Mount Peel Station* in central Canterbury as a case study, Peden explains how pastoralism transformed much of the eastern hillcountry (or rangelands, as he refers to them) of the South Island, and seeks also to debunk a few myths about the impacts of pastoralism while he is at it (specifically, about the role of pastoralism in rabbit infestations and burning as a management tool). Continue reading

Our favourite Californian – the history of Radiata Pine forestry in NZ

Radiata pine (Pinus radiata, known as Monterey pine in its place of origin, California), makes up nearly 90% of New Zealand’s plantation forest (1.6 million hectares). The pine grows much faster here than its homeland – about 7 times faster than in the US and 20 times faster than in Canada. No wonder then that New Zealand, along with Chile and Australia, are the top growers of this species worldwide. New Zealand also boasts the most extensive plantation forest, dominated by radiata pine, in the southern hemisphere (Kaingaroa Forest [click here for map]). So, how did this pine species become so integral to our landscape and economy? Continue reading