Shedding light on biodiversity crisis

15 April 2015

Marie Brown

"Vanishing Nature": Marie Brown has published a book looking into New Zealand's declining biodiversity.

A new book outlining New Zealand's declining biodiversity is as much about providing solutions as it is about highlighting the perilous state of many of our native species.

Vanishing Nature: facing New Zealand's biodiversity crisis is proving a surprisingly popular book for lead author Marie Brown, who says they attempted to create a book that was both technically defensible but also accessible.

"It's a fine line," she says.

Loss of biodiversity preventable

The book explains that continuing losses of our native species are not inevitable but a choice. The trouble is, there's not enough political will to make those hard choices.

"We need a bit more will before we get the way."

She says conservation inherently faces an uphill battle as the current economy "incentivises damage".

"It's one of the aims of the book. We know a lot of good stuff is being done but the numbers are still going backwards and we need to figure out why. We demonstrate that it is because the economic drivers to damage are far bigger than the organisational capacity of the public interest in protecting nature."

Focus on identifying and resolving issues

She says a main focus of the publication is providing answers rather than simply being a negative narrative about the issues we face.

"Solutions are a big part of the book."

Brown is the Environmental Defence Society's senior policy analyst and last year completed her PhD at the University of Waikato. Her doctorate looked at how pre-agreed "ecological compensation" was being met across 245 conditions in 81 different resource consents granted across New Zealand. It found that just over 35% of requirements were not being met.

She says her next project following Vanishing Nature will be more specifically linked to her PhD, looking at how we manage the impacts on biodiversity of development in New Zealand and how we might do things better

Where to find a copy

Brown's book Vanishing Nature: facing New Zealand's biodiversity crisis is available ($45+p&p) from Touchwood Books (, from EDS ( or by phoning EDS on 09 480 2565.