Messing with natural order comes at a cost

WALLY RICHARDS
Last updated 11:04 20/08/2014
Rabbit
Rabbits, hares, gorse, hedgehogs, numerous birds and deer all came to New Zealand with the early settlers.

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Mankind has a problem messing with nature and the natural order of things for either greed or their own ego.

The early settlers in New Zealand introduced a range of plants, insects and animals from England because they wanted to make New Zealand more like England. Rabbits, hares, gorse, hedgehogs, numerous birds and deer all made the journey.

Some have adapted to our conditions and not caused too many problems while others have become a curse. Rabbits, for instance, have no natural predators in New Zealand and our pastures and crops suit their ability to breed massive populations which in turn destroy farmland.

Even when the settlers cut and burned native bush to create paddocks the grass planted became an excellent food source for the native grass grub and porina caterpillar making real problems for gardeners and farmers ever since.

Likely, the natural enemy of these two natives would have included moa and kiwi. The scales of balance disappeared with fewer native birds for control and massive numbers of the pests.

If we take a plant out of its natural habitat where it is controlled by climate and predators and plant it in an environment which it can thrive with no natural controls, we are creating a noxious weed.

Ecological systems have evolved over thousands of years, all with their balance and counter balances but we can in no time at all disrupt the natural order and cause immense problems for hundreds of years to come.

This is why we now have far stricter controls on our borders with biosecurity.

If a predator insect or a bacteria is going to be introduced to control an introduced pest problem, a lot of research is done to find out if beneficial life forms will be unduly affected as well.

However, we have no idea what the long-term affects will be because nature is not constant, it is always changing and that is how it survives.

Man kind cannot control nature, nature controls itself.

A few years back a pest insect from Australia, the potato psyllid, was able to establish in New Zealand. MAF researched the pest and found in Australia it was not a major problem decided not to do anything about it.

Sure the psyllid is not a problem in Australia because it is controlled by its climate in which the higher temperatures regulate their breeding.

Place the pest in New Zealand where the temperatures are congenial to their breeding and we now have a massive problem commercially and in our gardens.

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We are told by our scientists that the use of antibiotics in animals, plants and people has reached the point where bacteria are becoming resistant to the antibiotics.

We now get a small dose of antibiotics in our daily food chain. Bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics pass this resistance to the genes of their prodigy who improve on the resistance.

Bear in mind a lot of bacteria have a life cycle of about eight hours and during that time reproduce like mad in favourable conditions.

Could a thorn prick when pruning your roses mean a death sentence? Our scientists tell us in the near future, likely yes.

Problems? Phone me on 0800 466 464 or email wallyjr@gardenews.co.nz.

- The Southland Times

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