Inspiration Book on Fighting for the Environment

Book Review
“Environmental Defenders – Fighting for our Natural World” by Raewyn Peart
Price $79.99. Reviewed by Tony Orman

The Environmental Defence Society often referred to as EDS, was established over 50 years ago in April 1971. It went into recess in 1988 but was re-established in 1999 and since has fought many battles, with notable successes taking on the might of shortsighted governments and avid exploiters of natural resources. 
This 368 page book on EDS is a large one featuring meticulous research by author Raewyn Peart. Despite its size – for there’s much to tell about EDS’s action fronts and victories – the author’s style makes for easy reading. A liberal sprinkling of excellent colour photos enhance the reader’s journey through the pages.
Author Raewyn Pearl is a long-time EDS director and policy director, well qualified  with degrees in social sciences, law and commerce. It was back in 1970 that an environmental controversy erupted over the National government’s plans to raise and drown the shoreline of Lake Manapouri in Fiordland National Park to supply electricity to a foreign-owned aluminium smelter.  
I remember the “Save Manapouri” campaign well, for as a fledgling environmentalist, I was involved. My good friend and deerstalking and political mentor John Henderson, the national president of the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association, was in the front line of “Save Manapouri.” 
“Save Manapouri” along with the trout farming issue, were key issues that toppled the National government and assisted the charismatic, inspirational Norman Kirk and Labour to win the 1972 election.
“Save Manapouri”  in the late 1960s and early 1970s inspired the awakening of the environmental conscience of New Zealanders. Consequently in response, EDS was formed basically as “a coalition of lawyers, scientists, students and other citizens dedicated to the protection of environmental quality through public education and legal action.”
Since then despite the decade in recess, EDS has come back with a vengeance, winning several key battles even if some involved years of endeavour. Tenacious is a good adjective for EDS.
Fittingly the book is dedicated to Gary Taylor who has been a strong driving force behind the Environmental Defence Society toils and triumphs. 
Recreational fishers will find especially interesting the substantial chapters on management of the sea fisheries Quota Management System. 
As the author observes “much of the quota was eventually brought up by large companies iand is now effectively controlled by a few powerful corporate interests.” That’s the very point John Henderson and I warned against when the QMS was launched in the mid-1980s.
The battle for clean water and safeguarding river flows feature in combatting Mackenzie Basin threats from corporate dairying, the aborted Tukituki irrigation scheme in Hawkes Bay, Manawatu’s Horizon Regional Council primary production intensification and battles against large scale irrigation plans in the Central South Island.
A chapter on Wild and Scenic Rivers is there.
These threats are often massive and backed by highly moneyed developers. For instance, in 2009 a proposal was to house 17,850 dairy cows on Ohau Downs Station in the Mackenzie Basin. The cows would be housed for nine months of the year in 20 wintering shed and milked by robots. 
Up to 1.7 million litres of effluent was to be discharged to pasture daily, equivalent to a city of 250,000 people.
EDS scored a major victory. EDS waged years of battling other dairying conversions in the Mackenzie.  Raewyn Peart warns against complacency  by saying “more work is needed to protect the Mackenzie country.  There is no place for apathy.
Author Raewyn Peart has written an absorbing book and Bateman Books have done a splendid job.
The result is an engaging read and is highly recommended.

EDA Raewyn book.jpeg

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1 Response to Inspiration Book on Fighting for the Environment

  1. Karl Lorenz says:

    The question arises, why are only non-government organisations (NGOs) have to be fighting for the environment. We pay the MPs and ministries and departments via our taxes.
    Where is the Department of Conservation and Ministry for the Environment?
    Absent Without Leave!
    Thank goodness for the efforts of EDS.

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