Compelling case against 1080
By Leslie Clague
On the recommendation of Kapiti Independent News’ editor I have just completed reading The Quiet Forest: The Case Against Aerial 1080 by Fiona M.F. McQueen.
This book by this particular author may be just the catalyst necessary to end New Zealand’s 1080 tragedy. I call it a “must read” for everyone, whether pro or con 1080.
The author is a medical doctor, specialising in Rheumatology. She has an MD in Immunology and is a Professor as well. Her career includes research and teaching, giving her the methodology necessary in writing this book.
An academic with a passion for the outdoors
McQueen also has a passion for tramping and the New Zealand bush, particularly the alpine regions of the South Island, according to the “About the Author” paragraph at the beginning.
This personal passion for New Zealand wildlife led her to explore the work of the Department of Conservation after hearing a story from a hunter in 2015.
Neither pro nor con 1080 at the time, the hunter’s tale of entering an area of Fiordland bush with almost no bird life and a forest floor littered with carcasses of red deer, possums and woodpigeons, started her off.
She began researching, interviewing various people, reading scientific papers and going to various on-line sites to learn more. The result, two years later, is The Quiet Forest.
Personal stories and detailed research analysis
The book’s appeal is in the personal way she tells about what she learns, as well as thoroughly informing the reader about the data she discovered.
The book is just over 200 pages long, divided into 27 chapters. There are also 25 pages of 276 references. Some 10 pages of photos, diagrams and maps are also included. The only useful thing lacking is an index.
The chapters are succinct and rich with information. It opens with a history of 1080, followed by detail on worldwide use, followed by how the poison works. Many chapters are on specific species, from insects through birds to animals. These chapters are interspersed with interviews and details on such topics as tuberculosis.
The final four chapters are on how the use of 1080 is structured, from the psychology behind it to the industry that drives it. She then looks at options available outside using this poison. She notes that one of the best is to simply leave Mother Nature alone; spend the $80 million per year used to spread 1080 on something more useful and positive.
McQueen, of course, quotes the other great communicators who want to see the end of 1080 use, including Clyde Graf and Bill Benfield, both who have done such tremendous work to raise awareness.
A catalyst for much needed change?
As McQueen points out, however, with over 86% of the NZ population living in cities, they generally don’t have time/interest in the great outdoors. They leave it to the Department of Conservation, which must know what it is doing….
The timing of the publishing of this book adds to its importance. There is a new government in place with a decidedly green bias: hence the focus now on river cleanliness. (And hence the latest Fonterra public relations campaign on television). It is time to raise the anti-1080 campaign to a higher level.
I understand copies of The Quiet Forest have been sent to 10 politicians in Government so far. What else can one do?
Read this book. Then we can all plan and act to bring back a true clean, green New Zealand.
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