ifoam'96 ifoam'96
Book of Abstracts
11th IFOAM Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996, Copenhagen, Denmark
EcoWeb Denmark


Sustainable use of Subtropical Hill Land. P1; 4

Blake, G.

PDC, Waiomu, Thames Coast, New Zealand

The Coromandel Peninsula, N.Z. is a scenic landmass of old volcanic mountains shaped by a subtropical climate and a rainforest which has been much modified following human habitation from at least 400 BC (Williams, 1994).
Our Polynesian ancestors settled along the coast, cultivated gardens, but depended on unique birds and fish for much of their food. Rahui or sustainable use was practiced but a number of birds, including the giant moa, did not survive. Fire destroyed areas of forest but it was the arrival of the Europeans that created the major changes to the landscape. Forests were felled for timber and gum and the land was cleared for gold mining and pastoral farming in a short period of 100 years.
Since then small towns have developed and horticulture, pine forestry and indigenous forest have expanded at the expense of pastoral farming. New Zealand has an extremely efficient farming industry, without subsidies, but farmers are still finding business difficult despite GATT, and absence of food mountains and a »clean, green image«. They are asking what is a sustainable land use in a world that needs quality food?
A land use in which »the task of technology is not to correct Nature, but to imitate it« (Alaxandersson, 1982). For the Peninsula this looks like horticulture and farming-forestry on the most fertile soils, a more mixed commercial forest model on steeper country and a win/win economic model for the indigenous forest park. New Zealand has many pest plants and animals which if not managed will destort the regeneration of indigenous habitat and threaten more local and unique species.
The benefits should include an improvement in soil quality with a restoration of humus, yet more productive farming, plenty of high quality water, a more sensitive forest land use and greater variety of timber, less erosion and siltation of coastal estuaries, restored indigenous habitat and a unique landscape for the local people and the many others who seek tourism and recreation.
Global sustainability is a balance between population demand and resource use. This is urgent for every country and it requires a very hard look at our individual human needs and attitudes. If a Government does not know where to start it should try for at top quality water supply. This will sort out many land use and health issues as well as restoring habitat, providing technology with a sustainable base for development.

Alexandersson, O. (1982): Living Water. Viktor Schauberger and the Secrets of Natural Energy. Turnstone Press, Northhampshire.

Williams, Z. J. (1994): Thames and the Coromandel Peninsula 2000 Years. Williams, Thames, New Zealand.