Regenerative Livestyle Blog

Sharing my regeneration journey, enjoying living in harmony with nature

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Gardening in Harmony with Nature Classes starting soon

Regenerative Lifestyle Afternoons

  • Are you interested in taking care of your property in harmony with nature?
  • Do you want to know how to regenerate your lifestyle property?
  • Do you love living healthy and close to nature?
  • Do you ask yourself what would nature do? 

Learn more than you expect with garden guide and regenerative lifestyle practitioner, Florence Micoud, in a relaxed afternoon with the gardener atmosphere in the beautiful inspiring garden she is a grateful guardian of.

Contact me 02102792481 for more info or booking. Be in quick, limited space!  

Details of the sessions

Each session includes : 

+ Informative tour
+ Activity
+ Q&A
+ Stretch
+ Takeaways (garden goody & recipe)

Contact me 02102792481 for more info or booking.

Be in quick, limited space! 

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All we need is ♥… a mindshift

I did it!

20 times, I walked past the glass house, telling myself “I want to” redevelop it. It was in the too-hard-basket don’t-know-where-to-start for a while.

Then I set my mind to it, looked at what was needed, researched and got bits. Then I did it, in four or five sessions, helped by my partner ♡ and we now have a clean and lush source of seedlings and joy. Done. Happy.

What happened? I chose to do it. I switched to I-can-do-it, I looked deeper, with a bit of curiosity, adventure and creation, one step at a time, it was easy. And fun.

Quite an ordinary experience, isn’t it? We know how to do new stuff, we do it all the time. All change, small or big, starts with a conscious choice, a decision, a mindshift.

Our renewed glasshouse

For the big challenge of climate change, we need is a mindshift too. And it’s happening. TVNZ has started a Climate Special programme, showcasing solutions and opportunities. They said 51% of people don’t know what to do. Here it is:

Start with a mindshift

  • Shift to NOW, not in 2030. In my case, I have chosen sustainability and regeneration for a long time. I don’t wait for a law that forces us to do it. Whatever carbon I don’t use now, is not in the atmosphere. Over the years, that’s a lot of carbon that I haven’t added in the atmosphere.

Wean yourself off fossil fuels

I switch to electric vehicles and tools, solar panels, local food, renewable energy provider, I divest…

In what I buy, in what I do, I look for carbon and embedded carbon (eg. plastic, chemicals, kilometres, waste) and find the best I can, or stop altogether. 

Choose nature

I chose nature a long time ago. I defend nature, enhance nature (plant trees, foster biodiversity…), mimic nature. I align with nature, I slow down, it’s relaxing. Forest bathing is now a thing, it changes us, it is our nature. I convey the experience within Beautiful Gardens of Wānaka guided garden tours, admiring and immersing in nature. Knowing nature better to care for her better. 
And for everyone to enjoy connecting with nature, I am advocating for Biodiversity and Community enhancing Parks and Corridors. It’s an elegant solution to many local issues and it is getting traction.

I value nature more than money. In our society still very much based on monetary value, it’s a big mindshift. From “I want/I need more/fear of lacking” to “I have enough“, simplicity, contentement. I can’t think of something that has more value than an old tree, or a forest, it can’t be bought, it can’t be replaced. I take all my decisions on how it will impact nature, not how much it costs.

Flower bathing, guiding a garden tour

In short, I care.

I care for my garden, feeling in gratitude for being a guardian of this beautiful part of Papatuanuku.

I care for my community by contributing to the local Regenerative Tourism intiative and facilitating Regenerative Wanaka discussion page.

I care for the planet and all its beings, and specially trees. I love trees -but that will be another post.

And I care for myself. Because this is where I have most effect. I choose what I eat; Food that is good for us and for the planet is one of the major solutions of the climate crisis (this food subject also deserves an entire post). I choose what I drink, what I put on my skin, what I wear… I choose as local, natural and least transformed as possible. I care for my mental health, I breathe, I exercise, in nature, in the garden. I become aware, conscious and this is a big mindshift, always work in progress!

Becoming aware…

  • I stopped saying it’s difficult: this stops me from trying! Instead, I tell myself it IS easy and I find a way.
  • I stopped blaming others, the council, the media… Instead, I ask myself: “How can I help?” and I take responsibility, I connect and inform as best as I can. It is a humbling exercise in vulnerability.
  • I stopped saying “I will.., I can’t, they should…” Instead, I create the world I envision. I do. It is very empowering, creative, fun, beautiful.  

I choose to care for the planet, the community and life now, in all ways and to contribute to the regenerative culture shift.

Enough talking, next post will be about grassroots. Literally grass roots!

Feel free to share other mindshift examples♡
Simply being in nature, connecting, with all senses

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Climate Change Mitigation

This is a summary/extracts of the Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change, Summary for Policymakers, IPCC. I’ve added some indicators: In red are the people’s potential for action, in green are the co-benefits.  I did not add any comment or anything that is not in the original 31-pages document.

Mitigation is a human intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases.

Climate policies, to be effective, need to cross over all sectors and societal goals, include all countries and collective interests, based on sustainable development and equity. Addressing climate change creates co-benefits or adverse side-effects. No one action can itself solve the problem but working on all aspects has the potential to keep temperatures within 2 degrees increase (that is 450ppm) over the century, on which this report focuses.

Without additional effort to reduce GHG emissions, temperatures will have increased from 3.7 to 4.8 degrees celsius by the end of the century.

Anthropogenic (=man-made) greenhouse gas are CO2, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases. They’ve accumulated at an ever increasing rate in the atmosphere (+2.2% per year in the last 10 years).

GHG emissions

Now these gases come from these activities:

GHG by economic sector

It is demonstrated that the increase in population itself has not increased the CO2 emissions. It is the GDP per capita increase that has. Consumption has grown between 300% to more than 900% over the century.

Adverse side effect of mitigating climate change (within 2 degrees) is to reduce consumption growth by 0.04 to 0.14 percent points per year. Co-benefits include reduced costs for achieving air-quality and energy security,  significant benefits for human health and ecosystems. Overall, the potential co-benefits outweigh the adverse side-effects. Mitigation costs vary between countries.

Mitigation policy could devalue fossil fuel assets and reduce revenues for fossil fuels exporters.



Energy demand will be reduced by efficiency enhancements and behavioural changes.

Energy use will be reduced by behaviour, lifestyle and culture change, complemented by technological and structural change.By Rama CC BY-SA 2.0

Decarbonizing (i.e. reducing the carbon intensity of) electricity generation is a key component of cost effective mitigation. The share of renewable energy, nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage (CCS) needs to increase to more than 80% of electricity generation by 2050 and fossil fuel power generation without CCS is phased out by 2100.

Renewable energy performance has improved and costs have reduced substantially, enable deployment on large scale.

Nuclear energy is a mature low GHG emission source of energy but barriers and risks exist: operational risks, and the associated concerns, uranium mining risks, financial and regulatory risks, unresolved waste management issues, nuclear weapon proliferation concerns, and adverse public opinion.

Natural gas power generation could act as a bridge technology.

Carbon dioxide capture and storage technology could reduce GHG emissions but has not yet been applied at a large scale. Also it raises concerns about operational safety and long-term integrity of CO2 storage.

Combining bioenergy with CCS offers prospects while it entails challenges and risks.




  • Technologies existing and in development improve vehicles performance: electric, methane-based fuel, biofuels (with CCS)
  • Integrated urban planning: investment in public transport systems and low-carbon infrastructure, transit -oriented development, more compact urban form that supports cycling and walking, high-speed rail systems…
  • Behavioural change to adopt these

A combination of the 3 strategies not only halve the transport contributions but also provide important co-benefits: improved access and mobility, better health and safety, greater energy security and cost and time savings.


The energy demand for building is in expansion, as wealth, access and lifestyles improve. Opportunities to stabilize or reduce global buildings sector energy use by mid-century exist:

  • Energy efficiency policies, strengthening building codes and appliance standards
  • Implement recent advances in technologies and know-how
  • Retrofit existing building can achieve 50-90% of reductions of heating/cooling energy use.
  • Life, culture and behaviour significantly influence energy consumption in buildings (three- to five-fold difference).

Co-benefits: savings, energy security, health, environmental outcome, workplace productivity.


Currently the biggest emitter; Opportunities to reduce Industry GHG emissions below the 1990 baseline exist:

  • Energy efficiency can directly reduce emissions by 25%.
  • Process optimization, substitutions,
  • Resource use improvement, recycling, re-use

It is not only cost effective but it also comes with co-benefits for the health and environment.

Waste reduction and recycling are key to reduce landfill emissions.

Agriculture, forestry and other land use

A quarter of global emissions come from deforestation, emissions from soil, nutrient (fertilisers) management and livestock. Therefore solutions are: By DarKobra Urutseg Ain92 (File:Tango icon nature.svg File:Blank_template.svg) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

  • afforestation (planting trees), and sustainable forest management
  • building humus,
  • improving cropland and livestock management
  • changes in diet and reduction of food loss

These strategies also benefit biodiversity, water resources and limit soil erosion.

Bioenergy can reduce GHG emissions only if fast growing species are used, land-use is well managed, biomass to bioenergy systems are efficient and biomass residues are well used.

Human settlements, infrastructure and spatial planning

Urbanization is a global trend and will include 64-69% of the world population in 2050. It comes with income increases which are correlated to higher consumption. The next 2 decades are a window of opportunity to get it right as a large proportion of urban areas will be developed during this time and it’s quite locked in. Mitigation strategies involve:

  • co-locating high residential with high employment densities (reduce urban sprawl),
  • high diversity and integration of land use,
  • increasing accessibility in public transport and other demand (access oriented development).

Advantages are better air and water quality, time and health benefits.

Mitigations policies and institutions

Sectoral and national policies

Currently USD1,200 billion are invested each year for energy security. Large changes in investment patterns are required:

  • decrease of 20% in fossil fuel technologies (-USD 30 billions per year). The complete removal of subsidies for fossil fuels in all countries could result in reductions in global emissions by 2050.
  • renewable energy investments double (+USD147  billions per year)
  • investing in upgrading existing transports, buildings and industry systems require another USD 336 per year.
  • achieving nearly universal access to electricity and clean fuel for cooking and heating are between USD72 and 95 billions per year until 2030 with minimal effects on GHG emissions while improving lives, environments and equity throughout the world.

That is plenty of opportunity for business and growth and it creates large energy efficiency gains.

Policies integrating multiple objectives, increasing co-benefits and reducing side-effects have started to be experimented and reveal that:

  • Regulations and information (education) widely used are often effective.
  • Cap and trade systems for GHGs (carbon offsets) could be effective if the caps are constraining.
  • Tax-based policies (for example on fuels) raise governments income and allow them to be proactive or to transfer to low-income groups.
  • Technology policy include public funded R&D and governmental procurement programs.
  • By lumaxart (Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsPrivate sector can contribute to 2/3 to 3/4 of cost of mitigation with appropriate and effective policies, i.e credit insurance, power purchase agreements, feed-in tariffs, concessional finance and rebates.


International cooperation

Various cooperation arrangements exist yet their impact on global mitigation is limited. Many climate policies can be more effective if implemented across geographical regions.


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How climate change affects our region

Just like Wanaka is a “lifestyle reserve“, Wanaka is also likely to be far less affected by climate change than many other places in the world. Not worried by sea level rise! And a bit warmer wouldn’t hurt, would it?


In our mountains, the biggest worry will be a shortened duration of seasonal snow lying, a rise in snow-line and a decrease in snowfall events. Glaciers will continue to melt.

The Ministry for the EnvironmentCopyright Ministry for the Environment Climate change projections for the Otago region page is worth reading. They predict:

  • around 0.9˚C warmer by 2040,
  • it will be wetter in winter and spring (more 29 % in Queenstown by 2090), drier in summer and autumn.
  • very heavy rainfall events are likely to become more frequent in Otago, increasing the risks of floods.
  • more often and stronger storms in winter (less in summer), with winds increasing between 2 and 5 per cent in winter, increasingly westerlies.
  • About the snow, “at heights between 1000 and 2000m:
    • the maximum seasonal snow depth is likely to decrease by approximately 20 per cent by 2040 and approximately 40 per cent by 2090
    • a low snow year is expected to be five times more likely by the 2090s.”

Unfortunately Treble Cone summit lies at 2088m and Cardrona at 1860m…

In the NIWA Natural hazard 2008 report, landslides, hailstorm, snow storms and electrical storms are all described for Otago. The fruit industry in Otago will be affected by summer droughts. The winter frosts will decline therefore bugs are likely to thrive.

And climate change is going to affect our native species, and their habitats in many diverse ways, states the Forest and Bird website. Birds and natives may have to move up to survive in their usual temperature but it is not always possible so it may mean they are out. Also some species, like tuataras -we don’t have any in our area to my knowledge- need a specific temperature for incubation therefore climate change is adding a threat to their survival.

Conversely, pests and insects are opportunist creatures and will make strides in changing conditions.

There is a last aspect I think is significant for our area: the impact of climate refugees, coming to live in our town because theirs is doomed. It may well have already started.

We are definitely all in there together!

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It’s time to talk about climate change

Surely you’ve heard of it: the United Nations are having a conference in Paris in December to talk about climate change. And hopefully make some decisions. Well, they need help because they are going in the right direction but far too slow.

What we need to know:

ErosionStClair beach98% scientists agree and the IPCC reports are peer-reviewed and include “skeptics” point of view. The IPCC report “Climate Change 2013: Physical Science Basis” summarizes all data with a level of confidence (depending on amount and quality of data as well as degree of agreement) and a measure of probability (based on models results and expert judgement).

Therefore any data or projection that comes with a high confidence and a very likely probability has -virtually certainly- happened or is going to happen. This is what the report states:

Climate change IS happening

  • Data collection around the world averages nearly 1°C increase in temperatures since 1870.
  • Extreme temperatures, droughts, floods, storms, have doubled or tripled since 1880.
  • Sea levels have risen 250mm since 1880
  • Glaciers have lost an average of 14 meters depth since 1950, particularly since 2004.
  • Wildlife has declined and species have migrated. Biodiversity main threat lies more in habitat destruction and wildlife trade than in climate change. However, the coral reef demise (only 12% of coral reef is left) is directly linked to ocean acidification which is due to CO2 increase.

Climate change IS human induced

Climate change is caused by the release in the atmosphere of vast quaE48400 - Lower part of Fox Glacier with glacier mouth, February 2013ntity of CO2 from coal and oil extracted by humans to create the extraordinary unprecedented growth since last century. Massive deforestation and other land use have also contributed to the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere. In the last 800 thousand years, atmospheric CO2 has varied between 100 and 300 ppm. Today it is nearly 400 ppm.

Methane and nitrous oxide (also created by humans – agriculture) are less concentrated but have a higher greenhouse effect than CO2 and therefore need to be considered as seriously as CO2.

Now, for people who still wonder why we should worry, click on the image below. Early humans appeared sometimes in Pleistocene and all the civilizations we know have developed in the relatively regular Holocene period. If we don’t prevent this sharp heating of our planet to happen, the world as we know it is GONE.
All palaeotemps

There is hope though. If we choose the right scenario, we can help make this temperature rise go slower, enabling as many as living creatures (includes humans) as possible to adapt…

What will happen?

Projections have been made for 4 scenarios (called Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs).

  • RCP 2.6 is a mitigation scenario which aims at, with active policies, stabilizing then decreasing the CO2 emissions before 2100.
  • RCP 4.5 scenario aims at stabilising the CO2 concentrations by 2100.
  • RCP 6 scenario aims at stabilizing the CO2 concentrations after 2100.
  • Now RCP 8.5 is what will happen if we continue business as usual.

So I’ve been very nice and read everything for you and here is a summary of the effects, depending on the scenarios we choose:

Today RCP 2.6 RCP 4.5 RCP 6.0 RCP 8.5
Goal Reduction by 2100 Stabilisation before 2100 Stabilisation after 2100 Business as usual
CO2 concentration in 2100 398 ppm 421 ppm 538 ppm 670 ppm 936 ppm
Average air and ocean temperature

(since 1870)

+0.85°C +1.8°C stabilised +2.5°C +3°C +4°C

(possibly +6°C)

Glaciers (cryosphere) 2% reduction since 1950 and accelerating 15 to 55% reduction 35 to 85% reduction

(ice free Arctic ocean in September by 2050)

Ocean acidification 8.1 8.05 7.95 7.9 7.8
Sea level rise (does not include the “not agreed on” possible Antarctic shelf collapse) +1.7 meter since 1900 +0.26m to 0.55m (compared to the average sea level between 1986 and 2005) +0.32m to 0.63m


+0.33m to 0.63m


+0.45m to 0.82m


And in Wanaka?

Just like Wanaka is a “lifestyle reserve“, Wanaka is also likely to be far less affected by climate change than many other places in the world. Not worried by sea level rise! And a bit warmer wouldn’t hurt, would it?


In our mountains, the biggest worry will be a shortened duration of seasonal snow lying, a rise in snow-line and a decrease in snowfall events. Glaciers will continue to melt.

KeaThe Ministry for the Environment Climate change projections for the Otago region page is worth reading. They predict:

  • around 0.9˚C warmer by 2040,
  • it will be wetter in winter and spring (more 29 % in Queenstown by 2090), drier in summer and autumn.
  • very heavy rainfall events are likely to become more frequent in Otago, increasing the risks of floods.
  • more often and stronger storms in winter (less in summer), with winds increasing between 2 and 5 per cent in winter, increasingly westerlies.
  • About the snow, “at heights between 1000 and 2000m:
    • the maximum seasonal snow depth is likely to decrease by approximately 20 per cent by 2040 and approximately 40 per cent by 2090
    • a low snow year is expected to be five times more likely by the 2090s.”

Unfortunately Treble Cone summit lies at 2088m and Cardrona at 1860m…

In the NIWA Natural hazard 2008 report, landslides, hailstorm, snow storms and electrical storms are all described for Otago. The fruit industry in Otago will be affected by summer droughts. The winter frosts will decline therefore bugs are likely to thrive.

And climate change is going to affect our native species, and their habitats in many diverse ways, states the Forest and Bird website. Birds and natives may have to move up to survive in their usual temperature but it is not always possible so it may mean they are out. Also some species, like tuataras -we don’t have any in our area to my knowledge- need a specific temperature for incubation therefore climate change is adding a threat to their survival.

Conversely, pests and insects are opportunist creatures and will make strides in changing conditions.

There is a last aspect I think is significant for our area: the impact of climate refugees, coming to live in our town because theirs is doomed. This is why it is not only altruistic to act for the climate. We are definitely all in there together!

Solutions are well-known

We all urgently need to stop our petrol and coal consumption. There are so many other ways to produce energy (eg. solar panels), to save energy (e.g. insulate), avoid useless motorized traffic, buy local… And we need to make pressure on our local bodies so they create effective public transport systems, safe cycle lanes, better housing regulations. And we can put pressure on governments so that they encourage renewable energy rather than support fossil industry.
Agriculture and forestry also need to improve their practices. An IFOAM report explains in 2009 that “agriculture currently accounts for 10-12% of global greenhouse gas emissions” (ruminants and deforestation mainly) whereas, “global adoption of organic agriculture has the potential to sequester up to the equivalent of 32% of all current man-made GHG emissions“. So we can choose to buy organic, plant trees, drink less milk… and again pressure governments so that they promote organics rather than throw some sand into their wheels.

We can choose to avoid plastic, to recycle, to grow our own food to build up our own soil… In fact, there are so many solutions, that it will be the object of another article!

Mostly, we need governments to take the right decisions at the next Climate Conference, to choose effective mitigation of climate change and we have the opportunity to tell them :

Come and participate in the Climate March here in Wanaka, on Sunday 29th November, at 2pm in the Dinosaur park.

We can choose to change our lifestyle OR the climate will change our lives.



1080, diquat and co.

100% Pure NZ is systematically sprinkled with persistent organic pollutants, but don’t worry! All the studies prove it’s OK.

Actually, independent source Pesticides Action Network PAN declares it’s not OK, these products are on the Highly Hazardous Pesticides list (HHP list).

What’s the problem?

They do not disappear despite some biodegradability, they enter the food chain and they accumulate. From highly acute toxicity to long term toxic effects (carcinogenic and mutations), endocrine disruption, environmental degradation (ozone layer, effects on animals…), to hazard to ecosystems services (bees), HHP effects are varied. Cause and effects are not always obvious, often long term. Only highly acute toxicity is tested in most cases.

DiquToxicat dibromide is on HHP list. It can be fatal if inhaled ; Also toxic by ingestion and  dermal contact, including neurologic effect. It is chemically close to agent orange and was used in Vietnam too. It makes rats infertile. It is often found in cow milk.  It is unlikely carcinogenic but is known as a potential ground water contaminator. Diquat is used every year in Lake Wanaka in an attempt to stop lagarosiphon spread. It doesn’t stop it nor prevent it to grow again. In fact, lagarosiphon is not toxic, it is a habitat for native species, it absorbs nitrogen. It does annoy boaties, getting stuck in propellers. It does disrupt hydro dams (turbine shutdown and lost energy production), obliging hydro companies to invest in expensive measures against the plant.

ToxicGlyphosate (RoundUp)  is listed on the HHP list. It is not as biodegradable as Monsanto says. Not only it is quite persistent in water and sediments but also its degradation creates other toxic substances. It is known to have long term health effect on kidneys and reproduction organs. Its massive use also leads many weeds to become resistant and it is present in many surface and ground water tables. Besides, glyphosate is often associated with other chemicals for the weedkiller to be more efficient so you get the perfect cocktail for unknown consequences. Actually not so unknown as many many studies show severe effects but Monsanto’s powerful marketing machine is still winning.

ToxicPindone (not on the HHP list), however on PAN database, it is listed as highly toxic, causing nosebleeds, bleeding gums, bloody urine, extensive bruising in the absence of injury (ecchymoses), also fatigue, shortness of breath (dyspnea) on exertion. It may cause fluid in lungs (pulmonary edema). It is fatal or highly toxic for fish. Toxicity data is missing (no study done/recorded) as to cancer, water pollution potential and the bees. It is used to kill rabbits, with some success, although rabbits invariably spread again, possibly getting resistant.

Toxic1080 (Sodium fluoroacetate), is on the bad guys list as Extremely hazardous (Class 1a) according to World Health Organisation and fatal if inhaled. May also be absorbed through the skin. Leads to convulsions, laboured breathing, unconsciousness and death if untreated. DOC says 1080 is OK for NZ because it targets mammals and there is no native mammals in this country. 1080 is not used in any other country in the world because it would destroy mammals. Well, sorry but I AM a mammal and my children too. More and more research show that it accumulates and that it has long term carcinogenic and reproductive effects… In the local papers today, DOC kindly reassures us that fish ingesting 1080 are safe to eat because you need to “eat several tonnes of affected fish” to get a fatal dose. For me, “not fatal” does not equal “safe”. What about everything in between?

2014 is a mast year

In 2011, the Parliamentary Commission for the Environment publishes a report that supports the use of 1080 as the best solution available to help protect our native birds. Interestingly, independent scientists demonstrate just the opposite on their site A lot of information is on the Ban 1080 website.

Solidly based on the PCE report, DOC launches the “Battle for our birds”, with a record dropping of 1080, when we know that 1080 kills about as many birds as it protects them.

Which to believe?

I am not a scientist but I see clearly there is not enough consensus on that matter among scientists to keep using these HHP without questioning.

I know about Rachel Carson landmark book, Silent Spring, which warned, in 1962, that the use of pesticides would lead to wildlife destruction and a dramatic increase in cancer cases.

I have read Our Stolen Future, by Theo Colborne, which demonstrated in 1996, that even tiny doses of pesticides can alter human development and reproduction, as they are endocrine disruptors.

So I wonder… and I worry…

What do the pro 1080 win? Lots of money $$$ from selling and applying their product. Pro-1080-diquat-and-so-on justify themselves by any mean to keep doing business as usual.

What do the anti 1080 win? Nothing! They must have good precautionary reasons to spend so much time and energy fighting this!


I am not saying I have solutions. I just want people stop saying these substances are solutions. They are not. They are dangerous and don’t solve problems, hardly mitigate them. Saying they are solutions prevents everyone from searching for better ways -non toxic please.

I think we must stop thinking in terms of pests that we need to eradicate. Maybe consider them as resources? Lagarosiphon is excellent composted. Possums of course have made the fortune of many trappers. Some rabbit terrines are served in the best restaurants in some countries…

Maybe widen the issue to the whole system? We don’t have a “pests” problem in an otherwise perfect world. I know this may shock but it strikes me that National Parks are protected (from destruction by humans) and DOC is sole responsible for their maintenance yet forests are becoming silent. I know of some valleys that are privately owned and well looked after by their owners. No possums, no stoats, lots of birds, lush native bush. Maybe the system needs revisiting…

What if humans became again guardians of the land, respectful of nature, not consumers and controllers of nature? This does require quite a mind-shift and a lot of open-minded discussions. I don’t have solutions. But if we don’t look for them, we won’t find any and we’ll keep doing the same things with the same results.

What you can do

  • Take the warning signs seriously! It IS dangerous!
  • Join groups who set traps
  • Take photos of abuse and send them to the media, OSH, local authorities and beyond
  • Love your weeds instead of poisoning them
  • Generally avoid using chemicals, they all add up!
  • Prompt debates…

PS- I could make a very similar article about the pesticides used in agriculture, less visible but more widespread…

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Trees trees trees

My favourite activity is to walk in a forest. I enjoy the softness of the forest floor, the smells, the noises, the atmosphere and hearing and spotting birds. It calms, regenerates and grounds me. But ever since I was a kid, I have always heard that forests are destroyed. When I check on the Internet to find how quickly, it is worse than I could imagine: 33 soccer fields per minute, as calculated in 1999 in a  FAO Study! It is estimated that only between 20 and 30% of the native forests remain worldwide. In New Zealand, Te Ara Encyclopedia states that 80% ot the New Zealand islands was covered in forests before human settlement. In 1997, natural forest covered just 24% of the land area, and planted forest covers 5% of land area, the FAO reports.

2011 was the International Year of forests to say loudly and clearly that it’s more than time to stop the destruction and start regenerating them. Why and how is summarised below.
Feel free to leave a comment to add or discuss a point.

Role and importance of forests

    • Forest ecosystems act as a sink of carbon. A fifth of greenhouse gases come from forest destruction was calculated in the  FAO Study .
    • Forests are vital in rain and water regulation. Trees are water column, and attract and retain water and humidity thus regulating water cycle. Haikai Tane from  the Living Water Foundation says for example “in Twizel, our two met stations during the hydro project days 1970-1985 recorded atmospheric humidity below 50% (MOSTLY 20-40%). Now with the arboreta of trees maturing, Twizel’s humidity rarely falls below 60% now… it’s a micro-meso-meteorological process… storing and recycling moisture through ecosystem performance...
    • They are hugely important ecosystems for biodiversity: they are the habitats of 2/3 of land animals. Vitally important for plants too which provide us for food and cure.
    • They usually have a high degree of endemism: in New Zealand for example, more than 80% of the approx 2300 native species in NZ forests occur nowhere else in the world (1), meaning that if we let them being destroyed, we loose these species and their genetic qualities all together.
    • When healthy, forests are an incredible resource for people who live near them (food, refuge, medicine, materials, firewood) and love them too.

Why are they destroyed?

  • For timber, sometimes just a few valuable trunks are taken (example the kauri in NZ), some is used for charcoal and wood chipping
  • For making space for farmland, particularly cattle farming and other exportation crops
  • Also burnt for hunting (example: the moa in NZ).
  • For mining and other uses. Here in the South Island forests were burnt to allow access for gold mining. Still today in many places forests are heavily damaged for mining and transport, oil rigging and dams. Example: open-cast mining in Denniston Plateau
  • For human settlements as we do not like to feel enclosed or they hide the view… and more and more humans need space.
  • Or they menace to change the landscape. That’s what happening currently in New Zealand with this wilding pine control frenzy!   They invade the pasture land, which is not natural in the first place… This is very controversial, sorry, and does not refer to the native forest indeed. But they grow so well, they would still be a useful resource (firewood… How much firewood do you use each year? Is it actually replaced by plantations?) and would help catch much needed rain too…

How can we stop it?

Support groups who protect them, for example:

Buy carefully:

    • paper with FSC label ,
    • wood products made from non exotic woods,
    • local or organic fair trade foods will ensure they have not been extracted from forests (unlike palm oil based food for example)

Campaign locally and globally (Avaaz, Greenpeace, for example) to protect forests.

And go and enjoy them, if National Parks are utilised, then they will not be as easily dismissed and nibbled. In some countries, eco-tourism is essential to keep National Parks doing their conservation work (example in Kenya).

Tree plantingAnd we can be restorative

Read the moving novella The Man who planted trees, by Jean Giono translated by Peter Doyle

The power of reforestation is fascinating. Wildlife comes back (example  QEII ), nature becomes abundant again. Watch for example this Oasis en tous lieux experience in Mali   or this amazing, complex and successful project of recreating rainforest  in Borneo, by biologist Willie Smits.

And locally, we can volunteer at Te Kakano nursery every Tuesday and Wednesday and there are Saturday planting days too. It is wonderful that a few passionate people managed to create a movement that allows us to regenerate native bush in our area. Thank you!

Or we can learn how to Grow Seedlings from the Wild and do it in our backyard.

Every tree counts and many trees recreate a forest…


(1) New Zealand’s native trees, by John Dawson and Rob Lucas, Nelson: Craig Potton, 2011


Tunnel vision…

Submission to the proposed Milford Dart Tunnel

To the Director General
Attention: Robyn Roberts
Southland Conservancy Office,
Department of Conservation,
Box 743, Invercargill 9810.

I am writing this submission against the Milford Dart Tunnel as information manager specialised for 20 years in environmental issues, as I have seen many stories of private interest wanting to nibble and encroach on public conservation land, whether for resources extraction, access or use. The proposal will particularly affect two of my favourite places in New Zealand, Glenorchy and Hollyford Valley, both of which I value for their pristiness,  remoteness and quietness, all qualities that will irremediably disappear if the project is  granted.

Duty of Protection

The National Parks Act 1980(section 4 (1)) states that the role of National Parks is to preserve in perpetuity, the scenery, ecological systems and natural features of the parks for the benefit , use and enjoyment of the public.

Besides, The Resource ManagementAct Section 6(b) makes the protection of Outstanding Natural Landscape a matter of national importance.

Both sides of the proposed tunnel are so far outstanding natural landscapes with no human constructions in sight. The entrance of a tunnel will create an everlasting scar in the landscape. No amount of tree planting can ever mitigate such a visual impact.

Furthermore, it is within a World Heritage Area place the responsibility to protect the zone in the New Zealand state who signed the convention  to “ensure the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage”.

Adverse effects

Noise, air pollution and dust resulting from the transit of an estimated average of 23 buses a day (peak 40) will not anly affect the peace of the other Park users but also the wildlife, that includes in the areas, the mohua, an endemic species in grave danger of extinction on the mainland. A few numbers still live in the canopy in the first three kilometres of the Routeburn Track, that is very close to the proposed tunnel entrance.

On the Hollyford Valley side, I remember hearing each car that would from time to time pass on the remote road, when resting near the river. I remember the birds stopping to sing for a while after each noise in the evening. I also remember noticing the smell of the scarce cars’ fumes when walking on the road and the inconvenience of the dust each created. The passage of buses will be heard and smelt which severely affect the peace for the National Park users.

In particular, noise from buses will impact on Routeburn track and visitor centre and can’t be adequately remedied, avoided or mitigated.

Effects of noise, vibrations, air pollution and dust on fragile and sensitive animal species are not known and I require studies to be carried out to determine whether there are adverse effects or not on all the native animals of the area, including mohua, whio, kākā, bats and parakeets to name a few.

The works for the proposal involve removing potential habitat of threatened species:

• Clearance of 8,500m2 (80m by120m,) of mature mixed broad leaf forest, including 6 large podocarp trees (probably kahikatea) for portal and staging area Hollyford Road. This is the  preferred nesting or roosting habitat for 2 species of bats and kaka and rifleman. I require a survey to be done to prove that none of these native protected animals actually live in the designed area. And if there are, they would need to be protected and the works not done.

I note that some native trees planting is planned to remedy to the clearance. Planting trees does not compensate for the loss of 300 years or more of growth for trees.

• Removal of vegetation from Hollyford Portal and Hollyford airstrip construction staging an area over about 7ha. Hollyford airstrip area includes vegetation important for red admirals and a small area of intact conifer/broadleaf forest. It should not be allowed to be destroyed.

New way not desirable

New roading is inconsistant with both the Mt Aspiring National Park Management Plan (policy 1 section 6.6.4)  page 69 and the Fiordland National Park Management Plan (part 5.7) as it is in the back country zone, it will spoil the enjoyment of theNational Parks by other users, and it is not required for access to departmental visitor facilities, thus making the proposal outside any exceptional circumstances for allowing new roads.

Part 3 of the Conservation Act 1987, section 17U states that “the Minister shall not grant any application for a concession to build a structure (…) where the activity could reasonably be undertaken in another location that is outside the conservation area (…) or  could reasonably use an existing structure of facility”. Which is the case as the Milford Road State Highway 94 is one of the highest and most scenic state highways in New Zealand. Part of the magnificience of the Milford Sound destination is definitely the journey, with its many well maintained tracks and facilities.

The excursion does take more than 4 hours from Queenstown but is scenic all the way which contributes to the WOW factor of the experience. Surely the road to Glenorchy is scenic as well but I doubt the experience of travelling in a 11 km tunnel will be enjoyed by many. The disaster of the Mont-Blanc tunnel is in all the minds, as well as 2009 Chunnel fiasco. I require studies of people stress when going through long tunnels, demonstrating it is not significant, as it will impact on the tourist in New Zealand average experience and overall level of satisfaction.

The planned road and tunnel is not for the general public but will be for private, sole operator access through/under a national park, so there is no added benefit to users of Mt Aspiring National Park. Although it is beyond DOC responsibility, I want to underline that this tunnel will externalise costs on the general taxpayer.  New Zealand Transport Agency is currently maintaining the Milford road to a high standard, at a high cost for the nation. The proposed tunnel will oblige NZTA to also improve and maintain the Queenstown/Glenorchy/Routeburn road, which ill be costly (for example at “the Narrows” site).

Enormous works impacts

Even of temporary, effects of the construction activities are huge and are planned for several years and yet, can’t be adequately remedied, avoided or mitigated.

They include, but are not limited to:

• Clearance of at Hollyford for   construction – includes concrete batching plant, gravel crushing   , workshops, generators, water treatment plant, office   accommodation, fuel storage, sedimentation and water treatment   ponds. (80-100 people on site during construction).

• 12m   diameter 4m high spoil surge pile and settling ponds and tanks at   Routeburn portal site

• Noise, dust and lighting effects on   wildlife not known

• Spoil disposal will raise airstrip by   7-7.5m – potential flooding risks

• Sediment flowing into   waterways and thence into Hollyford River

• Taking gravel   from river for concrete making

• 30 -35 truck movements per   day from portal to airstrip on Hollyford road

• Acid leachate   – 1% of tunnel spoil may contain sulphide rich rocks. I require   further studies to  find engineering solution to this problem, or   a study that proves that it will not have any negative impact on   nature.

• Tunnel discharge water into Hollyford River

•   Weed invasion to disturbed sites

• Intensive trucks   circulation on both sides, implying pollution and insecurity for   other road users

Private vs Public

Last but not least, the fact thatit is solely for private use and to capitalise on surplus mining equipement , the fact that project’s website or the consultants’ once existing websites same page on ) do not work, are signs of  transparency avoidance and confirm that there is nothing for the interests of the public in this idea.

Such a massive project is inapropriate in National Parks and will have enormous long lasting visual effects and bring irremediable destruction. I hope you will consider the responsibility we have to maintain natural resources for future generation to enjoy and will therefore refuse this application.

I do not wish to be heard, mostly because I do not have time nor money to go to the hearing, but I trust like-minded associations will support my view point in the hearing.

May my submission add weight to their evidence and submissions.

Kind regards.

Florence Micoud


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Best luck for 2012!

A long while ago, I had found a 5-leaves-clover and later the same day, I had found Clarisse in our garden… I had saved the precious lucky sign in a paper-tissue in a book, then forgot which book!

On New Year’s Eve, I found in the 5-leaved-clover in my “New Zealand Birds” book!

How is that to wish me and all loved ones around me the best of luck for 2012?

Wishing you health, happiness and resilience in 2012!

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I invite you to read my  Population & Sustainability essay in PDF format.

I hope you will find it interesting. Feel free to leave comments below. Thank you.

 (Click here if you need to get Adobe reader to open the PDF)


While writing it, I have learnt that I need to choose a more precise subject for my learning journal entries. Such a LARGE subject as “Population and sustainability” required more than 30 hours work, and nearly a month to complete, while it is only a tiny part of my studies.

I had to revise my statistics. I enjoyed playing with the abundant data on the UN site and creating meaningful graphs. I had not been manipulating large numbers for a long time and it does stretch the mind !

I was keen to dig in depth of the subject and not only collate information but also to find connections and critically analyse what I read, to create an innovative interpretation on the subject.

In fact, the subject was disturbing to me because I did not quite comprehend it. It was like a needle  in my political point of views. I was amazed at my findings and even surprised I could actually conclude that the population issue is an opportunity!

When writing, the trickiest was to find appropriate words to name “rich” countries and “poor” countries. Helena Nobert-Hodge uses North and South but this does not apply well from a New Zealand perspective. Developed/developing is so biaised and wrong, I don’t like it but I did use it. Third World does not apply now that the bi-polar USA/USSR situation has disappeared. “Industrialised” does not mean rich… Over-consuming / surviving ? Nah! Capitalist or Occidental world or G10 perhaps  / then what are the other countries? Well there is not really such a divide but a whole range, so I have tried to name the countries, rather than making generalities.

Thank you, Alexis, for pre-reading and questioning as well as looking after the family while I study.