6.3 million ha, or 23% of New Zealand’s 27 million ha of land area, are indigenous forest, a more than 70% reduction from the area before humans arrived. Maori burnt most of the dry, eastern parts of the country while Europeans felled and burned twice as much forest area in half the time in the wetter regions, with the uncontrolled fires that were set destroying old-growth trees that have little capacity to regenerate by resprouting. Selective logging took the larger, dominant and more merchantable trees, leaving behind degraded ‘bush’ that has not naturally regenerated back to the previous high forest within one, two or even three human lifetimes. Of the 1.2 million ha of original kauri forest, only a few thousand hectares remain today as original high forest, illustrated by the photograph on the cover. Now, individual kauri trees are in danger of dying from kauri dieback. The clearance of habitat along with the introduction of pests - rats, stoats, possums - threaten New Zealand’s native bird life. Some species sit on the brink of extinction. (no keywords)
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