Wednesday, 15 February 2012

In The Ghetto

New Zealand looks quite different from the air.
As a species, we spend most of our time on the ground.  We've always travelled along paths, whether they are rivers, railways or roads (or cycleways, whatever happened too...nah, forget that line of discussion).  As a direct result we only see a very small part of the country, often from the same perspective and at a speed that means we miss most of it.  Which is why things look different from, say, a bus compared to the passenger seat of a car, or walking.  But I digress again, back to the air.
I saw Maungatautari, from the air, some months back.  Well I think I did.  I ran up it, once, many years ago before it was fenced off.  It was steep, and beautiful.  Now it's an island, in the middle of farm land.  And I reflected on what we have done (our achievements, if you will), as a species.  The creatures that once roamed the country have been decimated nearly annihilated and are now restricted to the isolated bits of the country that we don't want or can't use for anything else.
It's kind of like what we, as a species, have done and continue to do with the members of society we don't like, for one reason or another.  Keep them in ghettos.
To be clear, I support what the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust are doing; it is a good start.  And I'm not suggesting the land they care for actually is a ghetto for animals, hence the "...kind of like..." in the previous paragraph.
In the longer term we, as a species, need to accept that we are part of the ecosystem.  Rather than something separate to the other inhabitants of our plant, with the right to rule over or control it, we have an important place - just like everyone else.  Indeed, this may be the defining issue of homo sapiens, with the worst-case alternative being rejection from the ecosystem, and extinction.
We have received and willingly taken so much from the world (complex linguistic skills, abstract thought, the ability to create music and art, a sense of time, reliable and extensive memory, the ability to create and use tools, machinery and electronics), and have given back very little in return.  There is no time like now to start.
UPDATE - a place to start is safe "paths" between the islands where we have exiled our native species, along with more "islands".  My first thought is that the paths would, broadly, follow watercourses, which need buffer strips to protect water quality.  Acting as a refuge and conduit for rare animals is an added bonus.

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