Hot off the press today is Catherine’s article on satoyama, the semi-managed nature in rural Japan, which has been published in the latest issue of Asian Studies Review. The article is highly topical, because satoyama was a prominent theme in this year’s Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which was just held in Nagoya, Japan last month. Continue reading
Episode 4 of the envirohistory NZ podcast series is now out. This episode explores three environmental histories – which, while diverse in both their time-spans and their human protagonists, are all connected by a common theme. The first of these stories begins in the early 1800s, and features a Maori hapu and its relationship with its coastal Horowhenua environment [click here to read original post]. The next one, is of pioneering Scottish settlers in the 1840s, and their longsighted protection of a remnant of swamp forest in what was to become Christchurch [click here to read original post]. The third and final, more recent, story is of a dairy farmer and the indigenous forest remnant encompassed by his south Waikato farm [click here to read original post]. Continue reading
Radio New Zealand’s “Country Life” programme is a favourite of mine – as a born-and-bred “townie” – I enjoy the insights it provides into living off the land – whether as a farmer, horticulturalist, or cottage industry owner. The programme also features stories which provide important insights from an environmental history perspective.
The most recent programme features a story about a southern Waikato farmer who, after growing up seeing the lowland indigenous forest around her town decimated by forestry, is covenanting 4 hectares of remnant bush on her farm in Mamaku [click here to view location] to ensure its future preservation. The bush is dominated by tawa, rimu and kahikatea, and is one of the last surviving remnants on this ignimbrite plateau which was once covered in dense forest. Continue reading
Having recently read Beyond the Scene: landscape and identity in Aotearoa New Zealand one particular anecdote stood out for me (see also: Landscape and identity in NZ). This anecdote is important for two reasons: one, it provides a salutary reminder that destruction of our indigenous forest cannot simply be relegated to a long-passed and unenlightened chapter of our history – in fact, it has continued into recent decades. But the anecdote also has a more uplifting lesson, reminding us of the old adage that out of adversity arises opportunity: that the most devastating circumstances, can, with the right mix of leadership, commitment and persistence, give rise to an outcome that brings benefits that in time outweigh the initial loss. Continue reading
Our environmental history is littered with the stories of wetlands that were drained to make way for farmland or settlements. But in the Wellington region, there is a rare example of a substantial wetland that survived this onslaught. It is an example of how – paradoxically – an environment’s utility as a source of a commercial resource can sometimes provide for its preservation.
Over the last 150 years there were a number of attempts to drain the swamp for farming, but these attempts succeeded in only partially draining the swamp. Continue reading