Category Archives: Socio-ecological Systems

The Fragility of Authoritarianism

I am fascinated by our propensity to tilt toward authoritarianism in certain times. They provide a delusion of hope.  Someone promises to make it all better, and something in us is attracted to the personality cult of bullies and what … Continue reading

Posted in Resilience Thinking, Thought Pieces | 1 Comment

Trust … in our Economy

They don’t think of ‘trust’ much when they talk about the economy. They split it up. They, the technocrats. They put such things as ‘trust’, ‘integrity’, ‘truth’ and ‘justice’ in the box marked ‘social’; something to deal with “after we … Continue reading

Posted in Building Regional Economies, Linkages, Resilience Thinking, Socio-ecological Systems, Thought Pieces | 5 Comments

Putting Culture back into Nature

We have spread across and changed our world. Change is the constant. But it is maintaining the integrity of our systems that is more important than whether there is any particular ‘natural state’. Continue reading

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Nature and Corporate Neoliberal Economics in Conflict

The laws of nature and the laws of corporate-based neoliberal economics are in conflict. Continue reading

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Creative versus Extractive Economies

The sands of Iraq and the karst mountain bones of the Grecian hills tell a story. These were once fat lands; the Tigris/Euphrates fields of Sumer, the Arcadia of Greece. They were once Mediterranean empires, now struggling countries of a … Continue reading

Posted in Building Regional Economies, Land Use, Thought Pieces, Wicked Problems | 12 Comments

The Minimum Wage and the Extractive Economy

There is a question that political economists used to ask, “What sort of society do we want to live in?” That question was a central core of the wider study of political economy, the study of our real economic experience. It … Continue reading

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Ways of Seeing III: Looking for the Many Moving Things

 “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.“ F. Scott Fitzgerald I read that Fitzgerald quote in a book by Roger … Continue reading

Posted in Land use policy, Socio-ecological Systems, Ways of Seeing | 4 Comments

Climate Change: from a Protest to a Movement

We dread the horror documentaries on climate change. “This is what is happening. If we don’t do something about it, these are the consequences.” It has the effect of stunning us. It’s better to put our head under a rock. … Continue reading

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Choice: A Bigger Machine, or Democracy & Culture

What are the critical factors determining good local governance?  The recent amalgamation debate in Hawke’s Bay was certainly raised some issues, but the debate was narrow – focusing on the idea that bigger is better. The logic of the Local Government Commission, … Continue reading

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Morality & Strategy Trumped by Financial Expedience

After reading the enthusiastic trumpeting of the sale of our water overseas in Saturday’s paper (17th Oct) I wondered when what is morally right got trumped by what is expedient to the financial minds.  Certainly it took a major turn … Continue reading

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Ways of Seeing I: Paradigms of Progress – the Rise of the Machine

Preamble.   This is the beginning of a series.  I wanted to write about where we have come from in land use and conservation, what we are doing, and where we could be going: from Pre-modern (Pre-Industrial), To Modern (Industrial, or … Continue reading

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Regional Development – Thinking Short & Narrow or Long and Broad

Wairarapa MP Alistair Scott’s opinion piece regarding the environmental record of New Zealand’s National led government (Hawke’s Bay Today 26th July 2015) is so full of errors, misrepresentations and clichés that it is difficult to know where to start. At its … Continue reading

Posted in Building Regional Economies, Land Use, Resilience Thinking, Socio-ecological Systems, Thought Pieces | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Reframing our Water as a Commons

This article was published in the Hawke’s Bay Today following the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s (HBRC) decision to allow an overseas water bottling plant to take water from the high quality aquifer that lies beneath the cities of Hasting and Napier. … Continue reading

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Seeing the World System of Weeds – Or – Do Androids dream of Intelligent Sheep? A Compleat Ramble

An anecdote about our research focus on ‘weeds’.  I was a little mischievously provocative about our ‘weed’ research at Otago University.  I remembered an Aldo Leopold article in one of my books of his essays (no, I can’t be bothered … Continue reading

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Future Goals and Options in NZ Land Management – A Transdisciplinary View

A brief argument from some years ago to rethink land use in New Zealand “If we go through a list of some of the main problematiques that are defining the new Century, such as water, forced migrations, poverty, environmental crises, … Continue reading

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Managing Complexity and Uncertainty in Natural and Socio-Ecological Systems

I wrote most of this as an internal document for a Regional Council in 2009 when it was apparent that both the internal management style and the approach to the wider natural systems and communities was not conducive to long … Continue reading

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Building Land Systems for Drought-Flood Resilience

A few notes from a morning rant “Although rainwater harvest has been accomplished by humans in virtually every drought prone region of the world for millennia, our society seems to have collective amnesia about the utility, efficiency, sustainability and beauty … Continue reading

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Two strategic directions for Land Use in New Zealand: Where do we stand?

I wrote this what seems light years ago.  I think it was 2007 or 2008. This is very rough, a mind dump.  It was done quickly, and is more to do with me getting thoughts out of my mind and … Continue reading

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Resilience Principles: Managing for an Uncertain Future

Below are three sets of principles for dealing with an uncertain world.  Updated. First, there has to be recognition that the world is complex and uncertain! G D Peterson’s schema is I think best at visualising that point (see below).  … Continue reading

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The Future of Belonging in This Place

It took 27 years for me to come home. For years I felt the lone voice screaming “Come on the Bay” amongst the red and black rugby faithful during Canterbury’s 1980s Ranfurly Shield era. In later years I facetiously referred … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Resilience Thinking, Socio-ecological Systems, Thought Pieces | 6 Comments

HBRC Election 2013 – Land and Water Concerns of Federated Farmers and Irrigation NZ

The following was in response to questions asked of Hawke’s Bay Regional Councillor candidates in the 2013 Local Body Elections.  Federated Farmers and Irrigation New Zealand Questions  Chris Perley  Ngaruroro Ward, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Federated Farmers and Irrigation NZ … Continue reading

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The Loss of the Napier-Gisborne Rail Link: Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold

This article critiquing the current government’s 2012 decision to close the Napier-Gisborne rail line was published in the NZ J Forestry in December 2012. ================================================================   Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall … Continue reading

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Edible Landscapes – Away from the Factory Model

There is many an idea presented as new that has its roots in days long past. We too often forget that the way things are done now was not always so.  We too often presume that the ways of today … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Socio-ecological Systems, Thought Pieces | 4 Comments

The Renaissance of an Ethos of Care

It is now more and more a forgotten fact that much of the effort by the New Zealand state in planting trees in the landscape had as its primary goal the ‘protection’ of some social and environmental value.  These values … Continue reading

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Does Farming need to Compromise the Environment? Compromise? Hell!

My apologies to Jane Austen, but some have been claiming recently that it is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a farm must compromise the environment.  One newspaper commentator stated it thus: “..where our (New Zealand) reputation … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Resilience Thinking, Thought Pieces | 9 Comments

NZ Primary Sector Strategy: an Alternative to the Race to the Bottom

Irrigation NZ CEO Andrew Curtis (NZ Farmer’s Weekly 25th Nov p 3) highlights one of the big problems with the New Zealand primary sector; our continued focus on producing large volumes of cheap commodities for international markets. We’re not to … Continue reading

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Land & Water Concerns of Federated Farmers & Irrigation NZ

Land & Water Concerns of Federated Farmers & Irrigation NZ.

Posted in Resilience Thinking, Thought Pieces | 4 Comments

Realising the Potential of Hawke’s Bay (and NZ Primary Sector)

Realising the Potential of Hawke's Bay (and NZ Primary Sector).

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Does Ozymandias Live in the Bay?

Does Ozymandias Live in the Bay?.

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A Forest Flows

I am a forester; in the old sense of the word. I want to reclaim the name, to give it again the sense of guardianship of a people and a place which is spatial, structural, dynamic, and timeless; a guardianship … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Linkages, Thought Pieces | 22 Comments

The Perennial Values of Civilisation

At a time when we are governed by opportunists, expedience, selfishness and the narrowness and short-term perspectives of money, we do need a re-examination of what it is to be ‘civilised’.   I do not think we can hope to … Continue reading

Posted in Building Regional Economies, Socio-ecological Systems, Thought Pieces | 6 Comments

Adapting to Climate Change – What Change? What Levels of Response?

Initial notes as the basis for a presentation to the Hawke’s Bay Royal Forest & Bird Society, February 2013 What adaptations do we make for climate change? The question of adapting to a future that is inherently uncertain – as … Continue reading

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Discovering Great Land Minds

My first blog post! All happened serendipitously. You start with this nagging thought that goes on for months and months. You love writing but love procrastination more. People prod you to produce prose. You are a mild technophobe, wonder about … Continue reading

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