Top positive review
a much needed perspective
Reviewed in the United States on July 8, 2019
I live in New Zealand, the 100% pure, Predator-free 2050, endangered species capital of the world. I'm no scientist, but when I saw this book in the library by chance, it spoke to a growing sense of unease that I've felt about conservation in this beautiful part of the world for a while. I've since bought it, not just for myself, but also for family and recommended it to friends.
This is the country where you only ever see a possum depicted as snarling over a helpless bird chick or as funny roadkill fridge magnet. Where predators are always 'nasty' and where we are now apparently calling the Australian Diamond Skink 'Plague Skink', because it will make it less liked, while Sirrocco the Kakapo has his own Facebook page. And if you want to be taken at all seriously, do not dare to even question the liberal use of 1080. It's the imagery, language and manipulation of racism- for lack of a better word-more than the actions that sit so uncomfortably with me.
This is also the country where rare domestic breeds that survived in the wild, like the Arapawa goat and Kaimanawa horse only hung on against eradication by the skin of their teeth. It's the country where we battle against wilding pines taking over tussock country, that was largely only created after early Maori burned down much of the original forest cover, while at the same time running an ambitious government project to plant a billion trees (not all native) to help off-set climate change. Let me quote from the DOC website, because it could be an example straight from the book: " As wilding conifers overwhelm our native landscapes, they kill our native plants, and evict our native animals. They also have a huge impact on our economy. They suck valuable water out of catchments, they add big costs to farming and they impact on tourism and recreational activities"
We depend on dairy, tourism, fishing and logging for much of our national income and it's amazing how blind we can be to their impact, if we really try. Much easier to blame the wilding conifer and the plague skink...
No, I'm not suggesting giving up on Sirrocco and neither is this book, it just advocates for some balance and for once in a while to stop and question our attitudes. The way to hell is paved with good intentions. The 19th century acclimatisation societies thought they did the right thing too when they introduced everything from sparrows to chamoix to the place. The goal has changed since then, but not the idea that humans have the right and wisdom to determine what nature should look like.
I highly recommend this book, even - and especially - if you think you will hate it.