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December 30th, 2010
Deforestation and the Settlement of New Zealand

Wherever humans have gone, fire has gone with them. Besides being essential for heating and cooking, fire has always and everywhere been the primary tool for clearing unwanted vegetation. Prehuman New Zealand was one of the few regions on the globe where natural fire played an insignificant role. Native trees and shrubs are, with few exceptions, highly vulnerable to fire and only very limited range of native plants are favoured by repeated burning. The widespread burning that accompanied the first settlers in the 13th century was therefore devastating. Much of what had been a largely forest-covered land was transformed into a patchwork of scrub, grassland and forest. Read More