Antibiotic resistance and herbicides: Together stronger, unfortunately

Most of our existing antibiotics were found in the dirt — with the help of pilots and missionaries. It started with the discovery of penicillin in 1928, streptomycin (1943) and neomycin (1948), all found from bacteria in soil samples. Those discoveries set the eyes of drug companies on searching in…

Expensive fish? The cost of marine protection in New Zealand

Nugget Point Marine Reserve Many would agree that marine reserves are a beneficial tool for the protection of precious marine ecosystems in New Zealand. Rigorous scientific studies of the impacts of marine reserve establishment, and the benefits to biodiversity, are now well documented in New Zealand and internationally. There is…

Save our bees or the consequences will sting

Save the bees! You’ve heard this before. Yet, most of us are either scared to be stung, or worse, are allergic to them. So, it can be difficult to grasp the thought that we should protect their wee bee lives. But, since we often hear about their distressing decline, they…

Preparing for unknown unknowns: Canterbury, crises and climate

The last decade has been a fairly trying time for those of us living in and around Christchurch. We have had to live through earthquakes, wildfires, pandemics, and even the occasional Crusader’s loss. We are always being told to prepare for catastrophic events. But how easy or reasonable is that?…

Plane and simple: your travel is ruining the planet

The glaciers are melting; polar bears are starving; and many small islands are slowly drowning. “Quickly book this flight to Iceland before the snow disappears completely, you don’t want to miss out on the beautiful glaciers there”, a voice whispers in my ear. “You are selfish”, another voice comes to…

Hoverfly heroes- win the war on aphids

New Zealanders spend a fair bit of spare time in their gardens. If your roses are looking like the one below, covered in aphids, or your citrus trees have gone black with mould, you could spray insecti- or fungicides. Or, you could add some plants into your garden to encourage…

Heavy metal in suburban earthquake gardens

At my flat in Sydenham we have a respectful sized vegetable garden. OK – all that is growing there currently are weeds. But it has potential. The strawberry patch has been bountiful this season and produced fruits even till late autumn. We have two peach trees that provided us with big juicy…

Native plants bring all the (wana)bees to the yard

Pollination is a vital service that many insect species do us the honour of performing. Pollinators allow us to enjoy the many different flowers, fruits and vegetables that grow as a result. In New Zealand the exotic honey bee (Apis mellifera), along with the bumblebee, is the most abundant pollinator….

The green walls of China

Growing up on a farm meant that you were familiar with fire. There were always trimmings from shelter-belt hedges to drag into piles to make into bonfires. In autumn, there was barley stubble that was burned off to help get the paddocks ready for their next assignment. There were also…

Tree guards and weed mats: is protection worth the cost?

Back when I started as a fresh-faced lecturer at Lincoln University in the mid 90s I contributed to a third year class called Wildlife Management.  Graham Hickling was the main lecturer and provided the heft of wildlife management. He had lots of hands-on experience in working with possums, stoats, rabbits…