We recently interviewed trailblazing conservation biologist Dr. David Towns, who authored the newly released book Ahuahu: a conservation journey in Aotearoa New Zealand. Situated largely on the stunning nature reserves of the Mercury Islands, located off the coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, Towns spent 40 years working on innovative conservation projects to eradicate mammalian pests on all seven islands. These team efforts have resulted in abundant wildlife havens, teeming with native species that now represent the closest pre-civilization examples of island ecosystems in Aotearoa.
Towns’s new book Ahuahu gives a behind-the-scenes peek into the triumphs, setbacks and ground-breaking bicultural teamwork that have allowed these islands to thrive, creating a spectacular example of Aotearoa’s world renown conservation work. The book features stunning photography of the picturesque landscapes and wildlife that make up the Mercury Islands, and documents how conservationists, iwi and volunteers alike banded together to restore these islands to their natural state.
Watch our Q&A interview with Dave below, as he walks us through the remarkable journey of the islands, his career and his hopes for Aotearoa’s conservation future.
We extend our warm appreciation to Dave for the interview and for providing the photographs used in the video. Reserve a copy of ‘Ahuahu’ from the Library today!
Ahuahu : a conservation journey in Aotearoa New Zealand / Towns, D. R.
“Aotearoa New Zealand is renowned among biologists worldwide for spectacular ecological restoration work over the last 50 years, through advances in pest eradication and native species translocation. This book documents the development of these world-leading technologies. It uses examples from throughout the country, but has a special focus on one island group – the Mercury Islands off Coromandel, of which Ahuahu (Great Mercury Island) is the largest. The story is told through the eyes of pioneer conservation biologist David Towns, who was there from the start. It is a story of triumphs and setbacks, of opportunity and innovation, of teamwork and emerging bicultural collaboration. Today, all seven islands of the Mercury group are free of mammalian pests, providing a haven to native plants and animals. This book is the story of how that was made possible.” (Catalogue)
We sat down with local author Bee Dawson to discuss the newly released book Ōtari: Two hundred years of Ōtari-Wilton’s Bush. Dawson tells us the story behind writing the book, and explains whyŌtari–Wilton’s Bushis a unique Wellingtonian treasure. We discuss local history, native plant conservation, collaborative research, and the special people who have helped create and celebrate Aotearoa New Zealand’s only native bush reserve.
The book features an array of botanical drawings and historic photographs, charting Ōtari’s significance to the local community over its history, from the 1820’s to the present day. The contemporary photographs by Chris Coad are particularly striking andbeautifully illustrate why Ōtari-Wilton’s Bush is ranked as a six-star garden of significance by the New Zealand Gardens Trust.
“The story of Ōtari–Wilton’s Bush, the only botanic garden dedicated solely to the collection and conservation of the plants unique to Aotearoa New Zealand and a native bush reserve with over a hundred hectares of regenerating forest, including some of Wellington’s oldest trees.” (Publisher’s Description) For more information on the book visit The Cuba Press.
Nature is a human right : why we’re fighting for green in a grey world / Miles, Ellen
“Nature deprivation is a fast-growing epidemic, harming the health and happiness of hundreds of millions of people worldwide – especially vulnerable and marginalized groups. Through each contributor, we discover a new perspective on why contact with nature should be a protected human right, journeying through personal narratives on mental health, disability, racism, environmental inequality, creativity, innovation and activism.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
140 artists’ ideas for planet earth
“Through 140 drawings, thought experiments, recipes, activist instructions, gardening ideas, insurgences and personal revolutions, artists who spend their lives thinking outside the box guide you to a new worldview, where you and the planet are one.” (Catalogue)
A trillion trees : how we can reforest our world / Pearce, Fred
“Trees are essential for nature and for us, and yet we are cutting and burning them at such a rate that many forests are fast approaching tipping points beyond which they will simply shrivel and die. But there is still time, and there is still hope. Fred Pearce argues that we can have our forests back, but mass planting should be a last resort. Instead, we should mostly stand back, make room and let nature — and those who dwell in the forests — do the rest. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Wild green wonder : a life in nature / Barkham, Patrick
“Wild Green Wonders bears witness to the many changes we have imposed upon the planet and the challenges lying ahead for the future of nature. Barkham paints an ever-changing portrait of contemporary wildlife, through thought-provoking interviews with conservationists, scientists, activists and writers such as Rosamund Young, Ronald Blythe and other eco-luminaries, including Sir David Attenborough and Brian May.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Enderby the sea lion pup and Hector the dolphin have been our guests on the first floor of the Central Library for a while. Lent to us by the Department of Conservation, they also made a guest appearance during Louise Chilvers’ talk (DOC marine scientist) on Thursday 28 July in the Childrens’ Department. Young and old congregated to admire our marine compatriots and listen to fascinating facts and advice on how to protect our environment and do our best to help the diverse population of marine mammals we are so lucky to have on our shores.