27 Nov 2020

Best of 2020: Environment

10:52 am on 2 January 2021

Meet the forward-thinking New Zealanders looking out for our natural wealth.

Citizen scientists enlisted to help monarch butterflies

The New Zealand public is being asked to help determine the extent of the monarch butterflies' plight at the hands of a nasty parasite.

Closeup butterfly on flower (Common tiger butterfly)

Photo: 123RF

After the Virus: The Environment

Covid-19 has shrunk the 10 years the world had to address climate change to no more than 18 months, according to Christiana Figueres, the United Nations lead negotiator for the Paris Agreement.

The Southern Motorway was littered with a few cars and trucks this morning. A stark contrast to the usually packed lanes seen every weekday morning before the lockdown was in place.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The effort to change our wasteful food habits

As New Zealand's population grows, so too does our food waste. We are chipping away at the problem, but not quickly enough. 

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Photo: Supplied

Why aren't we encouraging more rainwater harvesting?

With water restrictions being placed on Auckland and Northland due to drought, should urban dwellers be storing rainwater for irrigation and non-potable use when the weather gets dry? 

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Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Restoring indigenous names in biological species

Two New Zealand scientists believe now is the time to restore indigenous titles to biological plant and animal species.

Raukaua (Raukaua edgerleyi)

Raukaua (Raukaua edgerleyi) Photo: L Jensen

Don't dump it, upcycle it!

Piles of stuff dumped outside charity shops are particularly visible after Christmas. But people can’t expect charity shops to sell clothing and items that are in terrible condition, says Auckland Council's Rebecca Harrington.

a pile of waste clothing

Photo: Public domain

High-tech predator control scheme a first

Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) says it has eradicated all pests from a remote valley in South Westland and - what's more - is keeping them out.

Rock wrens have long legs and very large feet. Their only living relatives are the diminutive rifleman.

Rock wrens have long legs and very large feet. Their only living relatives are the diminutive rifleman. Photo: Kerry Weston / DOC

Supercharging critter control

Dr Helen Blackie is leading efforts to boost Predator Free 2050 with solutions spanning engineering, creative design, animal behaviour and toxicology.

Dr Helen Blackie

Dr Helen Blackie Photo: supplied

Tamatea / Dusky Sounds: the birthplace of New Zealand conservation

Resolution Island, the biggest in Tamatea / Dusky Sound and named for the ship sailed by Captain James Cook in 1773, became New Zealand's first sanctuary just over a century later.

Tamatea / Dusky Sound

Tamatea / Dusky Sound Photo: Peta Carey

The UK shepherd who turned his back on intensive farming 

James Rebanks tends Herdwick sheep on a family-owned farm in Cumbria, England. He has returned to the traditional farming learnt from his grandfather; after industrial practices he applied in the 1990s degraded the land.

James Rebanks

James Rebanks Photo: supplied / Andrew Heading

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