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Gathering good news stories of ecological hope

By Mark Gibson

A key purpose of Walk for the Planet is to see and hear and gather local stories of ecological degradation and healing.

The Lenten journey is one of facing up to the disharmony of our lives and seeking God’s gracious transformation and healing. Easter involves both crucifixion and resurrection. You cannot have a good news story without first there being a destructive reality that is acknowledged and addressed.

On Easter Day in Wellington those who participate in the Walk for the Planet will celebrate the stories of ecological hope and resurrection that gathered along the way from Rakiura to Picton. We are also keen to receive stories from other towns and regions that the walk does not pass through.

We encourage the organisation of parallel events in local areas where people can tell stories and celebrate initiatives that represent a restoration of right relationship with the earth.

One small story of hope can be found in Kennedy’s Bush on the Port Hills in Christchurch. In the brief period of time that human beings have lived on Banks Peninsula we have wrought considerable damage to its bio-diversity. From the time of European settlement the impact has been particularly devastating.

Once a sterile and barren volcanic island Banks Peninsula it providentially evolved into a place teeming with life. When the first European settlers arrived it looked very much like Rakiura does today.

Now, however, the five or six plant species that evolved here in unique isolation are now endangered. Through milling, burning and introduction of species most of the forest has been destroyed in one 15,000th of the time that it took to create.

This massive loss of habitat has had greatest impact on native bush birds. Half of the species originally found here have been wiped out.

In partnership with the Christchurch City Council a small Christian conservation group A Rocha (Canterbury) is actively involved in pest control in Kennedys Bush. There is now growing evidence that the korimako (bell-bird) population there has grown 80 percent over the last couple of years, and that conditions in the forest have improved so much that nesting birds species once prevalent here but long gone will be able to be reintroduced. In the next few years the aim is to reintroduce several species.