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.

It’s not easy being green – on being a frog in New Zealand

On top of struggling for their own survival, New Zealand’s native frogs have an additional responsibility on their very little shoulders – being a barometer of forest health. Like other frogs around the world, our frogs are barometers of overall environmental health. That is because frogs breath through very sensitive skin and are more susceptible to disease, pollution and environmental changes. A decline in frog populations is usually an early signal of something awry in the environment – and potential threats to other animals, including people. But in New Zealand, three of our four remaining indigenous frogs are forest-dwellers – preferring shady, moist and undisturbed forests. Therefore, they also act as a measure of the health and distribution of our indigenous forest environments. Continue reading

Bridge to nowhere – a battle with nature lost

Not all struggles to tame the land in New Zealand have been successful ones. The failed attempt to settle Mangapurua, (now part of the Whanganui National Park) is a battle that nature won – and the Bridge to Nowhere is a poignant symbol of human defeat.

Under the Discharged Soldiers Settlement Act 1915 and further legislation in 1917, over 10,000 veterans of the First World War were assisted onto land. Some 3,000 of these were settled on Crown land, much of it marginal and remote central North Island land. Over 5,000 veterans took up government loans to buy and develop properties, while others took up leases of Crown land under various forms of tenure.

Mangapurua (click here to view map) was one of the settlements opened up for soldiers returning from the war. The land was infertile, steep and prone to erosion because the bush had been cleared. A slow migration of soldier settlers out of the district began after the 1921 crash in agricultural prices, with the last settlers leaving in 1942. A bridge – known as ‘the bridge to nowhere’ – over the Mangapurua Gorge is one of the few traces of the former settlement. [Source: Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand]

Watch a TV6 video about the Bridge to Nowhere (including spectacular forest scenery) here.