Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Book: Protecting Paradise

Real surprise here.
Fed Farmers promoted this book a while back on the weekly RamBull newsletter. Its a late 2016 print, so the Feds were right out of the blocks on it.
I got it because I thought, as a farmer, I had a responsibility to be as boned up on pest control as I could, seeing as we've had a career long involvement in keeping our cattle herds free of Tb, and introduced possum pest being cited as the chief disease vector. 
What I thought was going to be a rather dry dissertation on the pros and cons of 1080 use turned out to be more..., much, much more, in fact one of my most interesting reads of the last 12 months.
The author devotes the first chapters to a run-down on the state, or better described as, plight, of NZ's wildlife. We usually give cursory recognition to this state of affairs when mentioned in the Press, but here's page after page quietly ramming the point home. I couldn't say I'd do a definite number on my opinion and where it might have been swayed to, more it left me with a sadness about where we are right now.
So, what are we going to do about it.
Then there's a big section on 1080, the history of its use, about the extraordinary lengths DOC and researchers have had to go to satisfy a hostile public about its efficacy, and comparative toxicity, and the development of safest forms of deployment.
And here's where the book got really interesting, discussing the philosphy of disposition, argument, dissent, discontent... whatever, Hansford's done a great job of presenting how an argument looks from both sides, all sides actually, but really how difficult it is, with the best science behind your argument, how the opposition can use it against you without a shred of scientific research data of their own.
The proposition that we all argue an issue from the basis of our own perspective is well travelled in the book, and I have to say my own bias was tested when Hansford likened the 1080 debate to that of climate change. Like with disease and pest control, as a farmer I have to keep a weather eye on most things, climate change included. I'm probably classifiable in the "denier" side of fence-sitter on that, but I'd strongly disagree from my position of all-sectors polling rural realism, that climate deniers were as vociferous as the 1080 dissenters, in fact I'd give the climate bad-mouthing award to the climate activists.
However, Hansford should be pleased I'll henceforth side with DOC's use of aerial 1080 plans, and will join the plea for better funding for DOC by Govt.

For the last 5 years or so this farm has been part of a much larger district wide brodifacoum bait station program run by the regional council. Initially, I didnt like the signage at the gate that went with it, like the place was under quarantine, but I've relented big time.
Scenes like the plover family on the right are regular now. Year before last we had a family of 13 quail hatch, grow and disperse from under a hedge. Haven't seen a possum for 3 years, haven't had rats in my garage, stable, or around the dog kennels for a couple years either. Found a skink from under my front deck, haven't seen one since I was a kid. Tui's regularly gong away in the trees round the house.
I don't think the Predator Free NZ vision is at all nuts, even if only part achieved we'll see a big difference.

Dave Hansford's book is an extraordinarily well written exposition on what could have been a difficult subject. Heck, there's even a 30 page bibliography/citations.
I think its a triumph in the use of modern English.
Thankyou Dave, and thanks Fed Farmers for putting it on the reader list