Tourism is a major foreign revenue earner for New Zealand. It is one of the fastest growing industries world-wide. The projected forecast for New Zealand is huge. This may be good for the economy, but has a down side as well. New Zealand has an extremely fragile natural environment.
A great deal of emphasis placed on attracting tourists to New Zealand on adventure activities such as rafting, bungee jumping and skiing. However, none of these activites are unique to New Zealand – what is unique is our endemic flora and fauna.
Eminent American biologist Jared Diamond put it perfectly, “New Zealand is the closest we can come to studying evolution on another planet”. New Zealand was the last major landmass on earth to feel the brunt of human occupation. Humans first arrived in any numbers only 700 to 800 years ago (in contrast Australia had its first immigrants approx. 40 – 50,000 years ago). After 80 million years of isolation, New Zealand had evolved into one of the most remarkable and fragile environments on earth, a land of amazing birds and a unique endemic flora.
Sadly these are not in good shape. The destruction caused by man and introduced predators has affected the flora and fauna of the Kahurangi. At the turn of the 21st century, many New Zealanders are still unaware of the true state of our natural environment. The effort being made to save what’s left falls short of what is necessary.
Blue Ducks are an ancient species threatened with extinction by predation from introduced stoats. Now they are carefully monitored by DOC, with help from volunteer groups like Friends of Flora. The Blue Duck, or whio, was once common in streams around Kahurangi National Park. However, in recent years this ancient species has been attacked nearly to extinction by introduced predators such as the stoat and rat. With aggressive volunteer-supported efforts to trap these predators, our hope is the ducks will have enough protection to breed in safety.
Friends of Flora is a conservation group saving the biodiversity of Kahurangi. Founded in January 2001, Friends of Flora (FoF) is a community group that believes our native fauna must be preserved for future generations, and it is our responsibility to make it happen here, now.
Friends of Flora was established by the original owners of Bush and Beyond and their strong belief in the protection of the biodiversity and habitat of New Zealand’s native species continues. Introduced predators such as stoats and rats are destroying our native fauna. Without human intervention, our native bird population will continue to decline, and more will become extinct.