It’s a sad reality that there are some pretty big cracks appearing in New Zealand’s clean, green image we have sold to the world. Our 100% pure brand is looking anything but that.
We can argue, complain, worry about the stupidity of it and be dirty on the main causes (like intensive dairy farming) and the politicians who deny it is happening, but the only solution is to actually be doing something about it. This is where you come in.
There are a surprising number of pathways and courses you can take to get you into the whole area of working to protect, repair and improve the environment we all live in. The number and importance of these will only grow, as will opportunities for fulfilling and rewarding jobs and roles in these fields. The days of environmental study being the domain of the alternative and hippies is long gone – this is now real work with a real purpose, and trying to meet a real need.
Most of our universities offer courses in Environmental Science and a number have courses in Environmental Planning. Similarly, a number of universities and institutes of technology now offer courses in Environmental Management, the actual important area of how we can practically make a difference.
And it is practical – a recent report from Unitec researchers talks about how the destructive impact of mining can be reduced by what they call ‘ecosystem-scale translocation’. This is a fancy term for picking up topsoil, vegetation and the insect/animal communities they contain, then relocating them immediately as opposed to waiting until the mining is done before trying to restore the area. Unitec has trialled this concept over 75 hectares at New Zealand’s largest opencast coal mine, Stockton, and the results have been very positive. While there is still work and research to be done, this successful environmental initiative could be applied all over the world.
The impact of introduced predators into our environment is another area of increased practical focus right now, and initiatives such as the Next Foundation’s predator–free New Zealand show how science and technology can be employed in the fight to restore the native bird life once so abundant here.
And there are jobs – good ones – at every level in these environmental-based fields. They range from practical, put-your-boots-on roles through to academic (put-your-white-coat on) positions, all having the importance and health of our environment at their centre. Studying or working in an environmental field is certainly one way you can be the change.