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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Environmental Anxiety in New Zealand, 1840-1941: Climate Change, Soil Erosion, Sand Drift, Flooding and Forest Conservation

James Beattie

Environment and History 9(2003): 379-392

The history of environmental anxiety in nineteenth- and twentieth-century New Zealand can be traced by focusing on problems caused by deforestation. In the 1840s concerns emerged that deforestation was causing climate change, soil erosion, sand drift and flooding. In the 1900s concerns about soil erosion overtook fears of climatic deterioration. A continued priority towards agricultural development at the expense of forestry constantly hampered conservation efforts throughout the nineteenth century. Only when the extent of agricultural expansion slowed down in the 1900s could these concerns be addressed; only then could a stronger, independent forestry service be established.

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