Fouling our nest

Written By: - Date published: 7:04 am, November 2nd, 2015 - 38 comments
Categories: climate change, Conservation, farming, sustainability, water - Tags: , , , ,

New Zealand is a beautiful country, and tourism is our second biggest earner of foreign exchange. We’d be stupid to trash the place, right? But last week:

Swathes of native forest in collapse, say conservation groups

Swathes of native forest are in collapse, conservation groups say, with neglect and a lack of pest control to blame for the crisis.

Forest and Bird said drone footage released today showed dead and dying native trees across Northland. The group said more than 1000 square kilometres of forest was dying, and emergency funding was needed to restore the ecosystem.

“Only sustained neglect over a long time leaves native forests in this state”, said Forest and Bird Northland conservation advocate Dean Baigent-Mercer. …


Ten NZ species closest to extinction identified by newly launched charity

The seaweed, along with Maui dolphins, an Auckland stag beetle, and a Canterbury weevil have won the dubious titles of being just a stroke of luck away from extinction. They are on the new list of New Zealand’s 10 most endangered species, which was revealed alongside the cost of saving the natives at a Wellington event on Wednesday evening.

Besides the Maui dolphin – which took the most endangered spot – and the fairy tern, many of the 10 have the curse of being unknown and uncute.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry, who attended the launch, said she hoped the foundation would find new funding to save species such as the 10 on the list. “DOC is working with more threatened species, around 300, and across more ecosystems, around 500, than ever before, but it can’t do everything alone.”

No, DOC can’t do everything alone. So let’s help them, let’s resource them! Those millions that the PM wants to spend on pandas (not to mention the flag referenda) would be a damn good place to start.

By coincidence, here’s Rod Oram on Sunday:

How to make NZ’s environmental reporting credible

If you read the government’s latest report on the state of the environment, its first in eight years, you might think we’re doing OK on balance.

Sure, you can see our sharply rising levels of greenhouse gases and the increasing damage done by intensive dairy farming in the report available at But these are presented as continuations of steadily adverse trends rather than escalating problems. …

Continuing adverse trends will kill you just as dead as an escalating problem. Greenhouse emissions and dairy pollution are nothing to get blasé about.

You need a second report, though, to understand what’s really going on. This is the OECD’s 2015 environmental indicators, published this week at

For example, the OECD reports our use of nitrogen fertiliser – the key driver of deteriorating freshwater quality – is the third highest in terms of kg per ha in the OECD after South Korea and Japan.

On greenhouse gases, the NZ report says our net emissions have increased by 33 per cent from 1990 to 2011. But the OECD reports 22 OECD countries have reduced their emissions since 2000. We are one of 11 countries to have increased them.

Worse, virtually all our environmental taxes are on motor vehicles and energy. This means the activities that do most damage to our environment get off scot-free. In contrast, intensive farming countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark collect more environment taxes.

The gap between OECD best practice on environmental reporting and New Zealand’s new approach is large. …

Apparently we’re stupid.

38 comments on “Fouling our nest”

  1. vto 1




  2. Paul 2

    34 out of 34 in recent OECD report on recycling.
    One of the few countries whose emissions are increasing.
    Clean green NZ.
    What a joke.

    Neoliberal capitalism is destroying NZ’s unique environment.

    • tc 2.1

      When experienced dairy industry folk tell me we’ve about 20% too many dairy cows this is inevtiable, we’re destroying our waterways.

      Drove past a section of a major river the other week not fenced off to see livestock in it doing what they do best.

      • The Watcher 2.1.1

        Too right – It’s long term damage for short term gain. And the politicians don’t look beyond Friday night’s drinks in Bellamy’s.

  3. tc 3

    ‘No, DOC can’t do everything alone’ and as they are currently undergoing another nact ‘restructure’ they’ll be even less able to.

    Nact regard the environment as a plunderable resource there for the taking.

  4. vto 4

    I think this needs to sit alongside these reports and be put up in lights.

    It is time for the farming families in New Zealand to actually leave the land in a better condition for the next generation for once.

    They have never done it. They have always left it worse for the next generation.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      Agreed but what they’ll do is demand to be allowed to continue to destroy our land.

  5. Rosemary McDonald 5

    Shameful and shitty farming practices….but….there ARE Kiwi farmers making a conscious effort to do better. And do better profitably.

    Paradoxically, it is our two state broadcasters who have made a real effort to tell their stories.

    Country Calendar….TVNZ, and Country Life on Natrad.

    Well worth a wander through their archives.

    • infused 5.1

      That doesn’t affect native forests. It’s pretty much all due to pests.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.1

        Have there been any changes to DoC’s pest control budget over the last seven years? Have they lost lots of institutional knowledge during the same time?

        Yes, the National Party are vermin.

  6. just saying 6

    There is a big problem with public-good necessities becoming volunteer projects.
    Akin to, and alongside the privatisation of meeting human and environmental need, it is a dangerous, largely unchallenged movement.

    • weka 6.1

      +1000. It reminds me of the conversation the other day about charities, only now we need nature charities as well. Maggie Barry is the pleasant, garden-friendly, middle class front for NACT’s policy of not giving a shit (two tracks again). Its utterly fucked that the Minister of Conservation in NZ would be calling on charities to save NZ’s native forests when they chronically underfund their own conservation organsation (not to mention monkeywrenching it via multiple restructures).

      • savenz 6.1.1

        Exactly – Kiwis are expected to fundraise for pest control on our forests but our tax payer funded money is given to Sky City, Saudi Sheep bribes, Grossers hotel bill, Keys jaunts around the world, Pandas, Bill English double dipping living expenses etc

        The government is a joke.

        The probably want our forests to fail so Judith can mine it for Swamp Kauri and sell the land to overseas corporations for conversion to dairy.

    • RedLogix 6.2

      I’ve long admired the work of groups like Permolat who have taken back a public good off the state (which was neglecting it totally) and reclaimed it for the community with huge success. These guys have become a model being emulated in other parts of the country.

      We’ve personally participated in local replanting groups and gotten a great sense of reward from seeing our work come to life.

      DoC itself has numerous volunteer programs that make a real difference.

      In none of these cases has the state abandoned it’s statutory oversight and responsibility, but much of the operational, on the ground decision-making and work is being made by people who actually care. Done well it’s not a bad or ‘dangerous’ development.

      • just saying 6.2.1

        In none of these cases has the state abandoned it’s statutory oversight

        DoC is cutting back and expecting volunteers to pick up the slack.

        Do you think we have enough willing and able volunteers (who are often not middle-class well-off people but increasingly, the most vulnerable members of society) and do you think these volunteers have sufficient resources to save our endangered wildlife and clean up our pollution?

        That’s leaving aside the issue of expoitation of vulnerable volunteers, cutting back what on what should be paid jobs, and exactly who it is that is doing much of the polluting and plundering …..

        • maui

          +1, the most important work can’t be done by volunteers, like carrying out 1080 operations and complex work in saving threatened species from extinction. This is the work that’s going missing.

          Although I think the volunteer work is invaluable and it would be scary to think how much money would be required if volunteers didn’t exist. I’m seeing more work pushed onto volunteers, and I think it will get more like that as authorities look to cut costs as they’re put under more financial pressure. Not a great end result for conservation.

        • RedLogix

          Of course volunteers aren’t expected to do 1080 drops or tasks they clearly don’t have the resource to manage – but neither are they necessarily ‘vulnerable’ nor being ‘exploited’.

          They are there because they love the places they are looking after and want to contribute. They are the community that cares and wants to have some input to the decision making.

          No-one has ever argued it should be a replacement for a well-funded and capable DoC (I made that point myself at 8.0 just a few comments down), but this idea that conservation volunteering is a bad thing is a complete fecking nonsense. The exact opposite – it’s been one of the more welcome developments in ages.

          • just saying

            How about you read what I actually said Redlogix.
            I didn’t say all volunteers are vulnerable or exploited. I didn’t say conservation volunteering was a bad thing.

            How about you get off your freaking high horse for five minutes. I was talking about the big picture, not a snapshot of glorious you.

            Btw, you look great.

      • weka 6.2.2

        In none of these cases has the state abandoned it’s statutory oversight and responsibility, but much of the operational, on the ground decision-making and work is being made by people who actually care.

        It’s not hard to argue that DOC’s policy change about back country huts some years ago was the State abandoning its responsibilities, which is why voluntary organisations got involved.

        There is a huge difference between species and ecosystem preservation and maintaining huts.

  7. Ad 7

    Great post Anthony.

  8. RedLogix 8

    It’s estimated that about 200,000 New Zealanders will go tramping at least once a year, and a similar number of hunters and/or anglers. In my experience most are pretty down to earth people who put a high value on our Conservation Estate. And again I’ll make a punt – a large majority of these outdoors people would be more likely to vote left than otherwise.

    And certainly the vast majority of these voters would like to see DoC better funded. Much better.

    There you go Labour – a relatively clean up and down issue that will get you votes.

    • srylands 8.1

      “And again I’ll make a punt – a large majority of these outdoors people would be more likely to vote left than otherwise.”

      .. but we already have a “left” Government so your point is irrelevant.

      As for DoC funding, if you are going to propose new funding, I suggest that you identify the cost-effective interventions that would make a difference. More funding does not equate to better public service results, as we found to our great cost under the last labour Government.

      Secondly, if you can identify such cost-effective interventions how are you going to fund them? If you increase spending, you will simply delay getting back into surplus, which most commentators here perversely wail about, while proposing no end of spending increases.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1.1

        our great cost

        [citation needed]

        If “our” means all of us, we paid down debt and had the lowest unemployment rate since the 1970s. So much for “cost”.

        If it means S Rylands, I doubt barking ideologues were of much use to Lab5. I recall Sir Michael Cullen had to school Treasury quite harshly on various aspects of life on Earth during those years.

      • Colonial Viper 8.1.2

        .. but we already have a “left” Government so your point is irrelevant.

        LOL sure if you count Atilla the Hun as centrist, you can count John Key’s National Government as ‘left.’

        Get serious.

  9. b waghorn 9

    Is there any truth to the story I read many years ago and can’t find on Google that the loss of seabird s nesting on mainland nz is a player in forest dieback due to them not depositing there droppings allover the bush as they return to roost.

  10. Corokia 10

    Tourism = using fossil fuels to fly people here and then drive them around to see the sights. Can’t see how that is a good thing if anyone is serious about reducing CO2 emissions.
    Yes, we need to try and stop the damage to our flora and fauna- but for it’s OWN sake, NOT as a tourist attraction.

  11. Draco T Bastard 11

    New Zealand is a beautiful country, and tourism is our second biggest earner of foreign exchange.

    Ah, but do we actually need foreign exchange? And who actually ends up with it? Once they’ve got it does it actually benefit NZ?

  12. Ho hum, ….. the last time the environment was @400 ppm CO2 and 2ppm CH4 something like 96% of life went extinct, I think it eventually went to 600 ppm to 2,100 ish ?? some time in the dime dark past?
    Environmentalists, greenies etc just can’t do basic math, a bit like Homer Simpson touching something hot “Duh?” and 5 seconds later “Duh?” … and so on.
    Water is wet, fire is hot, no arguments there I’m sure.
    400 ppm CO2 means the same effect now as it was back then, except the last time ‘we’ hit 400 ppm it took 10,000 years. Over that time period most of the global forests and ‘native bush’ would have died out, but we have done it in just 30 years, but to be fair I will give us from 1880,
    Over the last 10,000 year period of CO2 growth and temperature increases, there were something like over 800 CH4 lifetimes – the math being CH4 hangs around for about 12 years.
    Over the past 800,000 years CH4 hasn’t gone above .7 ppm, where as now we are seeing local spikes around the Arctic of 2.6 ppm.
    We are being warned of 50 Giggatons of CH4 ready to bust forth ‘any day now’ (and that prediction was made about 2? years ago) that would be equal to about double the amount of crap we have put in the atmosphere since maybe 1880 (?)
    There is an estimated 5,000 GT of ready to go CH4 lurking around the planet.
    2 years ago ‘they’ identified’ 50 CH4 ‘vents’ off the coast of Gisborne, last summer that had gone UP to 700, over the 50 km2 area. This is happening in shallow waters all around the planet now, 4c water is getting closer to the ocean floor.
    Also the last time the planet was transcending up from 400 ppm CO2 the temperature went up 5C in 13 years
    Methane was the driver of the Permian extinction and it will be the final blow in this one, the 6th great extinction.
    Dr Natalia Shakova shares with us her experience in the Arctic and her stunning conclusions.
    So alas the destruction of our tourist attractions is already written in stone.

    • One positive feed back, that is enough to finish the basting of this rock is the death and burning of the global trees, But even that is meant to be equal to only 2 months fossil fuel use ?
      Being as the amount of fossil fuel we burn each year is equal to 5 years of total planetary growth, but maybe the death of the global lungs that was the trees, is going to exasperate CO2 levels ? Then there is the 10,000/30 year gap in the thawing,drying, and burning of the permafrost, that HAS to happen to catch up with the 400 ppm, oh and last time ‘we’ hit 400 ppm CO2 all the oil and coal that was safe under ground then is now in the oceans and atmosphere.
      The planet is facing the biggest perfect shit storm in maybe a billion years ?
      Good on us.
      Read an interesting point of view regarding COP21 ‘If the ‘world’ is going to maintain nuclear weapons and power stations, then it will never be able to reduce CO2, as the societal sophistication needed to maintain this sort of infrastructure demands high CO2 emissions’ ? meaning you really can’t have Homer running the power plant.

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