…and why 1080 is a disasterBy Leslie Clague Former District Librarian for Kapiti
Some books change your life. The book with this capacity for me in 2013 was W. F. Benfield’s ‘The Third Wave: Poisoning the Land,’ (Tross Publishing, Wellington).
Having retired to Turangi, taking walks in native forests, along Department of Conservation walkways, is a major pastime. Only often we are struck by the silence of the forest around us.
‘There was a cacophany of bird song’
My husband came to New Zealand in the 1960s and he notes that then there was a cacophony of bird song where now there is only the occasional fantail calling or a tui spitting.
Living in Turangi we also have notices in the local paper when 1080 is going to be dropped on the surrounding hillsides. We have watched the helicopters spreading the poison over the face of Pihanga, the female volcano that shelters the town.
I decided I wanted to learn more about 1080 and looked it up in the Taupo District Libraries catalogue. Hence I found Mr. Benfield’s book. (Sorry, but Kapiti Libraries do not have a copy of The Third Wave in their collections; it can be obtained through the SMART library partnership.)
Bill Benfield is an architect by profession and a keen environmentalist. He owns a vineyard and winery in Martinborough. The Third Wave grew out of his love for New Zealand’s environment.
The title of the book comes from the waves of human activity in New Zealand and the impact on the unique flora and fauna of this land. The first wave is Maori settlement, the second wave is European arrivals and the third wave was created by one man’s obsession to re-create a world that never really existed.
The history of research and science done to justify various practices to protect the environment is thoroughly covered.
The history of 1080
And the history of 1080, originally developed as an insecticide in the U.S., is also carefully shared.
The shock for me was that New Zealand uses 90% of the world’s supply of 1080. It has been banned in almost every country and is only used in the state of Wyoming in the U.S. (to battle coyotes) and here in our ‘pristine’ land.
The other horror is that animals, birds, insects ingesting 1080 die a slow, excruciating death.
The game plan seems to be to kill off all life in our forests and then re-introduce those native birds raised in Forest and Bird sanctuaries, back into the wild.
The problem with this scenario is that fast breeders, like rats and stoats, recover quickly and continue to grow in numbers.
Benfield’s book is intelligent, thorough and I think, a must read.