Tag Archives: The New Wild Fred Pearce

Fred Pearce.


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Rain moved south to Victoria and New Zealand.

A couple of days when the sun has stayed visible for more than half and hour. The task of drying out, clearing branches and generally beginning the garden restoration work.

Having the lower back discomfort, after twisting myself moving rocks blocking the causeway pipes, gave me a few days to take it easy and begin the down sizing of my library. I put into practice the Alexander technique of putting a couple of books under my head and laying flat on the floor for an hour. It seemed to work and yesterday was able to resume normal outside chores. Sleep too returned so am feeling well relieved.

Lil visited with news from the devastated Lismore where the streets are piled high with flood damaged property.

These beautiful fungi have appeared on a fallen Ficus branch.

After the continuous flow of water through the gardens many tamarillos and yacons have succumbed but yesterday the first yacon flower appeared.



Time for more people to read Fred Pearce’s THE NEW WILD. Pearce, a veteran environmental writer for the New Scientist, used to think invasive species were evil interlopers which set out to ruin natural eco systems. In his study he explores eco systems from the Australian outback to the Thames estuary and finds that our ideas about the balance of nature are now seriously outdated.

A few years ago Nature magazine presented a peer reviewed study that found the common morning glory vine, often seen growing profusely around old tick dipping sites in our region here, was actually detoxifying the heavily contaminated soil that remained from the chemicals used on the cattle. Still we see morning glory being poisoned as an “invasive”.

Pearce argues, with endorsement from James Lovelock, that in this era of rapid climate change and the ecological damage, the dynamism of so called alien species, which usually thrive in the niches humans have created, can help nature regenerate and provides us with a better chance of adapting to the future.

In the recent 700 mls of rain here I was grateful for the 3 Coral trees I have remaining here on my land. Preventing a massive soil land slip as the water poured off the cliffs behind, they held a steep bank intact whereas a nearby sally wattle collapse taking out the power and phone lines. Coral trees in our valleys being the target of an expensive poisoning campaign by Land-care…………….many of which will have ended up anywhere from here to the ocean following our 700 mls of rain. Leeching their poisoning agent as they go.


From Byron Chemical Free Active Volunteers.

A new French study reported today in the Guardian has shown that “Virtually all farms could significantly cut their pesticide use while still producing as much food. The research also shows chemical treatments could be cut without affecting farm profits on over three-quarters of farms.”

One of the research team, Nicolas Munier-Jolain, said “If you want real reduction in pesticide use, give the farmers the information about how to replace them. This is absolutely not the case at the moment. A large proportion of advice is provided by organisations that are both selling the pesticides and collecting the crops. I am not sure the main concern of these organisations is to reduce the amount of pesticide used.”

Read the full report   https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/apr/06/farms-could-slash-pesticide-use-without-losses-research-reveals#img-1


Read the full report   https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/apr/06/farms-could-slash-pesticide-use-without-losses-research-reveals#img-1

Exactly the same problem applies to the use of pesticides in public spaces and conservation reserves.


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Macquarie Island. Excerpt from THE NEW WILD.

1810   Macquarie Island. First Europeans arrived.

Hunters slaughtered its seals for fur and blubber.

Then came the rats.

The rats ate the European’s food so they brought in the cats. Rabbits followed to compliment the diet. Rabbits flourished and by mid 20th century there were 150,000 of them. Then came the conservationists. They brought in a flea, (Spilopsllus cuniculi) that lives in the fur of the rabbit and carries the myxomatosis virus. Introduced in 1968 it cut the rabbit population by 90%. Vegetation started to recover. But there will still the cats. Without the rabbits to eat, the cats turned their claws on the remaining ground nesting birds. So, starting in 1985, the Australian government started shooting the cats. Some true ecologists thought this was a dumb move, and they were right. 15 years later the island was cat free, but with-out the cats the rats ran riot and ate the birds. The  rabbits numbers began to increase again because they had never gone away completely. With-out the cats, their numbers revived dramatically. Their renewed grazing on the grasses began serious soil erosion and in 2006 a landslip buried alive an important penguin and albatross colony.

Back to square one so in 2007, the Australian government hatched a grand plan, costing $24 million Australian dollars, Everything had to go. They would eradicate rats, rabbits and the increasing numbers of mice by mass poisoning, using brodifacoum, with any survivors taken out by teams of hunting dogs.

Sometime in 2012 the dogs finally nailed what was thought to be the last 13 rabbits. Job done? Scientists back in Australia, sitting at their computer screens, running models on the island’s ecosystems, believed so. But don’t hold your breath. For the poisons  (brodifacoum)  had seeped into the soils and the vegetation and then began killing 1000s of birds, including kelp gulls, giant petrels, black ducks and skuas.

The story seems far from over. Nobody yet knows if the eradications have been achieved. And if rabbits start popping up again there maybe a call to bring the cats back.

Taken from Fred Pearce’s THE NEW WILD.

Posted this to highlight our reaction to “invasives” as usually seriously ill informed with consequences far beyond our immediate sight.

Injecting trees with poisons along our creek banks? Spraying drains with round-up?


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Il n’y a rien d’inutile en nature, non pas d’inutilité même.

There is nothing useless in nature, not even uselessness.

michel de montaignemichel de montaigne




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Time to adapt to the New Wild.

Most plants and animals cannot adapt at the rate the climate is changing, scientists have said.

A study of more than 250 species found their ability to change their “climactic niche”, the conditions under which they can survive, will be vastly outpaced by future changes in rainfall and temperature.

Although some animals might be able to move to cope with rising temperatures, others live in isolated areas which they cannot leave.

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Amphibians, reptiles and plants are particularly vulnerable, according to US researchers and tropical species are at higher risk than those which live in temperate zones.

Ecologists analysed how quickly species had changed their climatic niches over time, and how these rates compared with that of global warming.

They analysed 266 populations of plants and animals, including insects, amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles.

Rates of change in climatic niches were much slower than rates of projected climate change, by more than 200,000 fold for temperature on averag,, they said.

In October, the most comprehensive survey of wildlife ever carried out suggested the world is hurtling towards the first mass extinction of animal life since the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago.

By 2020, the populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and other vertebrate species are on course to have fallen by more than two-thirds over a period of just 50 years, the Living Planet report found.

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