Hello, here is a time lapse taken of the amazing austral auroral display on 27-28 February 2023. As seen from The Snow Farm, Cardrona Valley, New Zealand
Made out of about 180 images taken automatically over approx. 4 hour period. And for this lot I was asleep tucked up in my 4wd camper truck. I’d tied the camera tripod down and it’s weather proof up to a point. And it kept doing a 15sec exposure every 50 secs until the battery went flat.
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Donald from iCommunicate Wanaka is Seeking Employment Aligned with Environmental and Sustainability Values.
Communicating and tech-ing sustainably – because the future is too important to leave to typos and outdated systems
The Importance of Protecting a Historic and Heritage Landscape in Central Otago, New Zealand
Buster Diggings is a historic gold mining site located near Naseby in Central Otago, New Zealand. The site was active from 1863 to the early 1900s and reached a population of over 700 people at its peak. The Department of Conservation (DOC) now manages the site as an Actively Conserved Historic Place and it is listed several times in the Conservation Management Strategy (CMS), a statutory legal document. Prescriptive in nature. The site is considered to be remarkably intact and of national significance, particularly for its rarity as a high-altitude, alluvial mining landscape. It is comprised of fine cream coloured auriferous-quartz gravels.
Unfortunately, the site is suffering from human impact, primarily from 4wd vehicles and motorbikes, which are driving up the sluice faces for no other reason other than pushing a vehicle to it’s limits. Thus leaving long-term wheel marks or scarring on the surface of the deposits, causing erosion.
Using momentum in a four wheel drive to get up a steep slope can be hazardous due to several reasons. One of the biggest hazards is the loss of control if the vehicle fails to make it to the top. In such a scenario, the momentum of the vehicle puts it in a precarious position that makes it difficult or even impossible to control the descent backwards. This can lead to serious accidents, such as a rollover, especially if the slope is steep and the surface is loose or slippery.
Additionally, over-reliance on momentum can put excessive strain on the vehicle’s drivetrain and suspension, potentially leading to mechanical failures. It’s always important to carefully assess the terrain and plan a safe and controlled ascent (or possible descent when traction becomes compromised).
Acknowledgement of the problem
DOC acknowledged this impact many years ago and erected a fence around the main sluice faces at the head of Clarks Gully in 2009. However, stronger protection measures, such as a stronger fence or the use of cameras to identify vehicle users rego (and forward to the Police), could be considered.
Education plays a crucial role in the success of any management program.
By educating the public, individuals are empowered to make informed decisions and take ownership of their role in achieving the desired outcome.
This approach is more effective in the long term as it creates a sense of shared responsibility and fosters a culture of sustainability.
Furthermore, educating the public also helps to build trust in the management program and its goals, as individuals are better equipped to understand the reasoning behind specific policies and actions.
Ultimately, an educational approach leads to a more engaged and invested community, resulting in greater buy-in and higher rates of success for the management program.
DOC (Department of Conservation) Interpretation Boards are an effective tool for public education as they provide information and context to the public about the local environment, conservation efforts, and the cultural and historical significance of an area. The boards can also help foster appreciation and respect for the environment, which can lead to greater support for conservation efforts.
Buster Diggings is a historically significant and rare site in Central Otago, New Zealand, that is currently suffering from human impact. DOC has a responsibility to protect the site and mitigate the risks posed by 4wd vehicles and motorbikes. Stronger protection measures should be considered to preserve the site for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.
CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT STRATEGY Otago 2016
Page 51-57 on pdf: The history of the Place is protected and brought to life at the Ngāi Tahu site of Manuhaea Conservation Area at The Neck and at the Buster Diggings actively conserved historic site.
The historic Buster Diggings has to be a protected and actively managed accessible visitor site.
Braided rivers are a common in Alaska, Canada, New Zealand’s South Island, and the Himalayas, which all contain young, rapidly eroding mountains. They are a unique environment inhabited by equally unique birds.
They simply cannot contain a river in a straight line. In floods especially they carry sediment, and in places where the flow slows down this settles on the bottom, thus raising it. And the water flows off to the side of least resistance. This will happen constantly during floods.
The technique for gathering bird numbers on these sort of rivers is quite simple: a team of four people spread out, in radio contact with each other, walk downstream counting every bird they see in front of them. On the ground or airborne.
And at that point the simplicity vanishes! Very finely tuned river crossing skills are needed, as well as “an eye” for the line that will give the best results. Plus physical stamina.
The tools of the trade are: a radio each, walking pole to aid crossings, binoculars, sun-cream, sun hat, good boots and gaiters [to stop gravels getting in the socks], GPS each, and a pen/paper/clipboard. Plus lunch, warm clothing, a camera etc. Warm dry socks also help at the end of the day.
There are about six species that are primarily dependent on the braided river habitat: wrybill, banded dotterel, south island pied oyster-catcher, black-fronted tern, black-billed gull, black stilt) as well as the caspian tern and the pied stilt. The villain of the piece though is the black-back gull, as they predate on the eggs of the others.
Obviously the results of such monitoring give a good guide as to the health of the environments concerned.
However the data as regards where breeding colonies are located, can be used for the most efficient locations for a new trapping lines. There is an attrition of traps though – during floods despite them being anchored by a chain to a long steel stake hammered in, they get washed away. Often the best compromise often considered, is for them to be near a bank that exhibits a history of stability, and place them with a shorter distance apart than the 200 mt standard in the bush, so as to create a fence of sorts.
A few months ago I was privileged to be appointed to the Otago Conservation Board. Such appointments are made by the Minister of Conservation. The first duty of a member is to work to achieve the statutory interests of the board.
Members are not representatives for any cause or organisation. Board meetings are public, and organisations can ask to be heard at them.
There are 15 Boards in NZ and each one is independent of any other body, and have a statutory obligation to represent the public interest in DOC’s work, and conservation in general within their region by advising DOC and the New Zealand Conservation Authority on planning and strategic direction.
A board can be requested by DOC to advise on issues like biodiversity, the use of public land, and concessions (a business may apply to use such land for their operations).
One of the first ones I became involved with was commenting on some old historic dwelling in the Aramoana Spit near Dunedin. In this case the owners of the houses have applied for a concession for them to stay on Conservation Land. They were built maybe 80 years ago, predating not only DOC, but goodness what other land designation.
Some field trip notes and images
At the time of publishing here a submission has been sent to DOC of the Board’s recommendations, but at this point I don’t know what the outcome will be.