Managing BiodiversityFriday, Apr 6, 2001
A news article by Ag Research scientist Liz Wedderburn raises some affirming points about the NZ farmer's
management of biodiversity. We have become very used to strident criticism of or monoculture
pastoral farming from a vocal urban lobby that see the concept of economic profit from the environment
as the devils doing.
Dr Wedderburn's statement that "the role of agriculture is changing, with not only the provision of
food and fibre, but increasingly, the provision of environmental outcomes such as biodiversity, water
quality and cultural aesthetics" is not far removed from the understanding of most farmers.
But she is even more complimentary when saying "Without realising it, we've actually become very good
at balancing the triple bottom line – the social, environmental and economic factors of land
use in New Zealand".
She goes on to say "this is being achieved by some very effective interactions between science, policy
and end users, particularly through things like study groups, monitor farms and workshops. It has
become a uniquely New Zealand approach."
It is good to see recognition that even though not perfect in all areas NZ farmers have in place the
mechanisms to balance the complex demands being placed on the rural environment.
It may be that a wintering dairy herd, slowly block grazing its way across paddocks appears to be an
extreme use of animals and pasture. However, it is a practice that demonstrates the balancing of
the social, the environmental and the economic factors now recognised as being good biodiversity management.
Farmers in the main are good managers.