Marie Brown of 'EDS' Environmental Defence Society & their recent publication Vanishing Nature

Interviewed by Tim LynchApril 15, 2015
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We take about 7 minutes to start getting to the more denser subject matter that begins to capture your attention.

Like altering the New Zealand economic way of life to recognise that Conservation
would be a very sensible thing to do. This being to place penalties that are such high costs on business that damages ecosystems, that it is just economical
not to engage in.

NZ has the highest rate of threatened species in the world and the charismatic maui’s dolphin with only 55 left will this be the measure of New Zealanders as a whole if we can not find ways to protect such an icon?

Maui and Hector's Dolphin Defenders NZ - facebook page.

Same for the kiwi declining at 2% or more a year  - mainly through predation … kiwis for kiwi are doing something about this.

With all species across our nation it is a serious reality that is one of decline.

Biodiversity has overall dropped off the political radar, which means that the government are focussing on other issues - that to them is their priority and we are not hearing or reading about what is at the heart of our Vanishing Nature.

In todays commercially driven world of celebrity and distraction it's very hard to communicate biodiversity, as is virtually all subject relating to the natural world - even to communicate our dependency on nature for our breath, our water and food chain and balanced climate, it is not in the ‘interests of the commercial sphere’ to talk up our connection with that which sustains us.

That the subject is so huge that many people become overwhelmed with the enormity of it all, yet it is imperative that we as a planetary civilisation urgently acknowledge and get to grips with reality, and commit. It’s like people saying that they don’t need Maui’s dolphins as it does not affect them, so why should they care?  Yet, we are talking about a break down in the trophic structure and of eco systems, as well as ethical and moral considerations and that any degradation in an ecosystem shows it is all interconnected, yet we have become disconnected!

Fortunately Enviro schools and schools in general are still able to focus on nature and our place in it, especially based on solutions and contributing to doing good things in the world. All the way to composting and worm farming etc.  ‘Educate them young’ - It’s a classic line. However, the need for funding in schools is critical.

The need for good media and investigative journalism is paramount - calling John Campbell where are you? … we learn that NZ does not have many investigative journalists that hold our Government to account.

Though the media have been very supportive of ‘Vanishing Nature’ since its publication,there is a need for more general support of NZ’s ecology  with ‘our big blue back yard’ being an example of a good TV program.

How do we approach the caring of nature, does this entail voting for a party who has Maui’s dolphins as an election platform? There are many ways at bringing our attention to instigate change that will benefit the environment.

Talking of a champion for the environment like Sir Peter Blake, Marie says there are many ordinary kiwis across the nation doing wonderful things for nature, and as they are basically humble by nature and we don’t tend to blow our own horns very much, that we never really hear of them yet, they are working in their communities just getting on and doing what needs to be done. The big issue in NZ is that the big economic drivers are doing major harm instead of driving conservation and lowering our ecological foot print.

Marie states that the basic stuff on the ground, where communities are coming to work co-operatively in pest eradication and fencing off predator free areas, as well as making off shore islands arks - that we are winning at that level and that NZ is an absolute global hotspot not just for working with biodiversity but for community efforts and environmental champions at the grass roots level.

What we need to do is to mobilise both the NZ public and consumers to use their collective clout - once we become conscious of how powerful we are as a large consensus - of what we can actually change and change quickly.

One such method at the higher echelons of education is to make sure that students do high quality environmental research at graduate and post graduate level and provide them with the opportunities to do that. To encourage environmental shift towards good, instead of bad behaviour.

The subject that NZ has a close affinity with land and sea and especially estuaries that are in a bad way and should we demand that developers obtain degrees in Marine Biology so they become far more focused on the ecology when developing housing etc?  As poor land management is now a huge problem, with sedimentation that blankets fishing grounds and shellfish beds due to run off and silting, as the marine areas are in the end - the ultimate receiving environment.

This interview also covers:

APPS for fisherfolk to report their catch to a central data collecting area to get a far better stock of what fish are being caught.

Red billed gull, godwits and so many species declining in the last 30 years.

NZ has 1/3 of our land in protection, one of the highest amounts proportionally in the world, but DOC is funded to manage just 12.5% of that, so we have a looming problem, especially with feral pests etc.

We don’t provide NZ with 12% of education nor 12% health, so what is going on here?

Our lowland and coast are under enormous pressure from development at present, we will need more restrictions on these areas so that we can care for the biota that live in these increasing built up areas.

The evidence coming in is we have certain regions that have had up to 98% of its natural areas annihilated

Caring for our oceans and our vast exclusion zone 10 times the size of our land area, is another huge challenge.

Covering the ‘Commons’ that it is owned by the people of NZ.  We have an ad hoc approach to the marine environment and we need to become more sophisticated and mindful of what it is to care for the marine commons. There is a need for a very coherent management model for this area.

Covering royalties from extraction of resources from the ground - Norway has $1 trillion US in their collective kitty for their 5 million people from North sea oil Royalties. Britain which shared the same field has basically nothing, it did not take the interests of UK people to heart when negotiating with the oil corporations.

Good to know that we have 1000s of New Zealanders in groups and NGO’s working in cooperation in community conservation etc  across the land. This is a good story.

Need to recommend an environmental consumption tax and rebate system that would require that those who consume natural capital pay for the privilege and those who protect it, are rebated to recognise their effort.

The Treaty of Waitangi and bio-diversity came up and where does it fit?

Co management and partnership need to be encouraged and talked up.

Average age of NZ farmers about 66 and they can’t find any of their children to take it over and Corporations are circling ready to buy up en masse.

Addressing the barriers of ‘good practice’ as an urgent issue.

Politicians needing to stand up leave their party affiliation outside and speak from the heart and have bio diversity be a pan political issue.

Need a defined end game and a way to hold people to account.

Rights of Nature?  In Ecuador and Bolivia and the honouring ‘Pachamama’ by acknowledging the environment for sustaining us.

This interview covers a vast amount of important information and was most enjoyable with Marie making very poignant points in a very eloquent fashion. There was so much to embrace and we didn’t cover 1080, the especially the TPPA  because if it is signed, we in NZ would not be able to bring any new environmental laws into play that may curtail an overseas corporation from making a profit, as just a few of the subjects that were not covered.

What we do to the 'web of life' we do to our selves - Chief Seattle

Marie A Brown, R T Theo Stephens, Raewyn Peart and Bevis Fedder   09 480 2565

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Tim Lynch

Tim Lynch, is a New Zealander, who is fortunate in that he has whakapapa, or a bloodline that connects him to the Aotearoan Maori. He has been involved as an activist for over 40 years - within the ecological, educational, holistic, metaphysical, spiritual & nuclear free movements. He sees the urgency of the full spectrum challenges that are coming to meet us, and is putting his whole life into being an advocate for todays and tomorrows children. 'To Mobilise Consciousness.'

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