Environmental Defenders: Fighting for our natural world [PRE-ORDER]

Environmental Defenders: Fighting for our natural world [PRE-ORDER]

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By Raewyn Peart

Dispatched on 7 May 2024

For over 50 years the Environmental Defence Society (EDS) has been at the forefront of protecting Aotearoa New Zealand’s natural environments.

From the Think Big power projects of the 1970s, to coastal developments on pristine northland beaches and the destruction of the Mackenzie Country’s unique drylands habitat, EDS has used the law to hold developers, businesses, councils and government to account and develop new legal frameworks to protect our precious landscapes. This is the story of how a small organisation took on the establishment and won.

In 1971, there was little in the way of protection for Aotearoa New Zealand’s unique natural heritage. Progress was the imperative for government and councils, with the land, rivers and coasts simply seen as resources to be exploited. As the negative impacts of economic growth on the country’s natural environments grew, so did public disquiet. However, there seemed little that ordinary citizens could do – raw sewage was being pumped into the Waikato River, rubbish was being dumped on Auckland’s coasts and the toxic 2,4,5-T was being liberally sprayed over the countryside.

What was needed was an organisation that could speak for the environment – an environmental defender. Accordingly, a coalition of lawyers, scientists, students and other citizens was formed, the Environmental Defence Society (EDS), and for over fifty years it has been dedicated to the protection of the environment through legal action in the courts, law reform and public education.

The story of EDS is a chronology of the country’s key environmental events over half a century. the society has been a vital player in mobilising the law to achieve important environmental protections as well as assisting communities to protect their special places. However, the work is not done. Although progress has been impressive, many of the issues around coastal development, freshwater quality, biodiversity and protecting outstanding natural and cultural landscapes are still with us today. new Zealand’s environment is still in need of defenders.

Hardback, 190mm x 252mm, 384 pages