A Forest and Bird claim that wild animals browsing foliage are hampering carbon sequestering has been strongly challenged by a recreational hunting advocacy.
Laurie Collins, convenor of the Sporting Hunters Outdoor Trust (SHOT) and former Marlborough pest officer, says the claims by Forest and Bird were “off beam”.
Recently Forest and Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said a new Forest and Bird report gives a stark warning that ongoing damage by introduced browsing pests causes native habitats to “bleed” stored carbon.
“The report, ‘Protecting our Natural Ecosystems’ Carbon Sinks’ reveals the West Coast’s kāmahi-podocarp forests alone are presently bleeding 3.4 million tonnes of CO2 every year because of browsing from deer, goats, chamois, and possums,” said Kevin Hague.
But Laurie Collins who worked extensively for the NZ Forest Service as a forest ranger, deer culler and pest worker, said Forest and Bird’s claims were ludicrous since New Zealand’s vegetation evolved over millions of years under a strong browsing regime by moas, other ground herbivore birds and canopy birds such as kereru (pigeon).
He said eminent NZ ecologist the late Dr Graeme Caughley had estimated there were at least six million moa comprising several sub-species that browsed tussock tops, forest, scrub and lowland vegetation. Landcare Research in 2000 estimated there were about 250,000 wild deer.
“So the wild animal browsing impact is insignificant compared to millions of years of browsing by moas and other birds,” said Laurie Collins. “If moas hadn’t been eliminated by hunting and habitat destruction by burning, would Forest and Bird be complaining and wanting moa browsing foliage, eliminated?”
He said Forest and Bird’s wild claim was made more absurd by recent disclosure of Climate Change Minister James Shaw and an entourage of eight, hypocritically travelling to Scotland by jet plane to attend climate change talks.
“Kevin Hague should be tackling the Minister and his bureaucrats instead of expelling hot air over wild animals,” said Laurie Collins.
© Laurie Collins – Would Greens and Forest and Bird
exterminate moas browsing foliage?