The Nature of Things

Part 9 Vision: Biodiversity loss is not inevitable: it is a choice – your choice!

Marie Brown Mar 24, 2016

New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity is in crisis – a crisis of state and trend, a crisis of governance and a crisis of public engagement – because the fundamental drivers of loss have not been addressed. What follows is the vision articulated in Vanishing Nature to bring solutions together and identify progress in communicating it. New Zealand has … Read More

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Part 8: Solving the biodiversity crisis

Marie Brown Mar 18, 2016

Over the past several weeks I’ve unpacked the essence of Vanishing Nature, pointing out where the fundamental drivers of the loss of nature appear throughout our economy and institutions. The worrisome state of our national conservation agency (DOC) is a manifestation of politically sanctioned agency capture promoting low priority to safeguarding nature over competing government … Read More

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Part 7 – Community conservation won’t save biodiversity

Marie Brown Mar 11, 2016

Community conservation is a real jewel in the crown of New Zealand’s conservation effort. Many thousands of kiwis fight for kiwis every weekend: trapping, weeding, building tracks, running tours and building community links to nature. Community groups, iwi organisations, private sector inputs, the philanthropic sector and landowners toil admirably. But this won’t save biodiversity. Community … Read More

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Part 6: The ultimate commons

Marie Brown Mar 04, 2016

Clocking in at more than 20 times New Zealand’s land area, our marine environment is extraordinary and full of biodiversity we have yet to even describe. But weak and dysfunctional governance renders protection of marine biodiversity from ongoing decline almost impossible. Our ‘big blue backyard’ faces key issues, particularly the absences of a staunch statutory … Read More

Part 5: Water runs downhill

Marie Brown Feb 26, 2016

New Zealand’s freshwater bodies are as revered as they are imperiled. Despite decades of law devoted to protecting freshwater ecosystems and safeguarding water quality in some way or other, the decline in freshwater biodiversity is startling. Lakes, wetlands, estuaries, streams and rivers are home to a pretty incredible array of wildlife that is in deep trouble. While some effort … Read More

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Part 3: A wounded gatekeeper – what’s up, DOC?

Marie Brown Feb 12, 2016

Many countries don’t have a centralised conservation agency like New Zealand has, but do these gatekeepers have the backing to stem environmental degradation and biodiversity loss? Last week I set out the three fundamental drivers of biodiversity loss: Market failure for biodiversity Regulatory failure due to agency capture and the power of private interests Perverse incentives that lead politicians … Read More

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Part 2: What’s really driving loss of nature in New Zealand?

Marie Brown Feb 05, 2016

Last week I demonstrated that despite a proud history of conservation and environmental management, New Zealand is still fast losing its natural heritage and, with it, our future prosperity. Addressing that requires some reframing of what conservation is for New Zealand, and recognition that doing more of the same might slow ongoing loss but cannot reverse the … Read More

Part 1: A proud history of conservation

Marie Brown Jan 29, 2016

The extraordinary specialness of our wildlife and ecosystems is internationally renowned. New Zealand is a global biodiversity hotspot with deep time endemism. This means that not only are things here pretty special, but they’ve been that way for millions of years. A unique identity for New Zealanders has been forged from this environment, and our natural capital has … Read More

We need to talk about how we fund conservation

Marie Brown Oct 23, 2015

Environment Aotearoa 2015 confirmed what many of us already knew: our natural heritage is in serious trouble.[i] Despite decades of law, policy and grass-roots conservation initiatives our biodiversity is rapidly declining because of habitat loss, fragmentation and change; pollution; impacts of invasive species; macro scale changes such as ocean acidification and a host of other negative … Read More

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