Not another COVID eviction story – contested spaces in Christchurch Central City

Tarāpuka adult and nestling at the Armagh St. colony, 2019. Quintessential Christchurch: rubble and road cones
Since 2019, a colony of Tarāpuka|black-billed gulls  – not only critically endangered, but the most endangered gulls in the world -  have taken up residence in the broken remains of an Armagh St. building left to ruins in the Christchurch CBD post-earthquakes. Current plans for the site are to develop a new Catholic Cathedral, and as such, the gulls...

New Zealand’s native conifers

Mixed podocarp forest, Pureora
One of my favourite groups of New Zealand plants are our native conifers. Most people don’t realise that we have 21 described species and two undescribed species. These are spread across ten genera in three of the six global conifer families. And on a land area basis we have far more native species than the UK or mainland Australia,...

Surviving on the edge: why do penguins matter anyway?

Emperor penguins in Antarctica
Emperor penguins depend on sea ice for their survival. Arek Aspinwall describes the impact of global warming on this sensitive Antarctic habitat.

Ōpāwaho/Heathcote River – (Re)connecting catchment communities

The Ōpāwaho (or Heathcote River) is one of two main rivers that weaves its way through Ōtautahi (Christchurch) on its way to the Avon Heathcote Estuary (Ihutai). Once a pristine lowland waterway, and an abundant source of food and resources for Ngāi Tahu, the Ōpāwaho is currently in poor health. While the state of the river has improved since...

What crawls beneath the surface?

Invertebrate life in New Zealand’s rivers and streams We all know about the kiwi and the kākāpō, but what iconic species are lurking beneath the surface of our rivers and streams? Freshwater invertebrates (animals without a backbone) are amazingly diverse: from taonga species such as kākahi (freshwater mussels) and kōura (crayfish), to insects, worms and snails. Just as forests are home to different animals than...

A good news story for World Ocean Day: The Ross Sea region MPA

The Southern Ocean south of the Antarctic Polar Front is managed by an international agreement analogous to the Antarctic Treaty, the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).  This area accounts for 10% of the world’s oceans and includes some of the most pristine marine habitats on Earth. CCAMLR allows fishing but aims to balance conservation with rational...

Tiny mud heroes of New Zealand estuaries

Estuarine mudflats are usually seen as bare and fruitless wastelands, but in fact, they rank as one of the most productive habitats on Earth. They provide food for vast numbers of shorebirds and supply us with tasty shellfish. Mudflats also play a pivotal role in filtering coastal waters from various pollutants that we put there. These ecosystem services would...

Our hidden forests

Seaweed form one of the most diverse and productive ecosystems on this planet, yet, with most of its beauty hidden below the surface; its importance often slips our attention. Destruction of terrestrial forests often causes global sensation and outcries. We know about their importance as they provide a home and food sources for animals and their indispensable role for our...