Fears for high country flora

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The increasing encroachment of farming into the mountains is contributing to the loss of flora, a Geraldine environmental educator says.
Hillary Iles is specifically concerned about the loss of tussock at higher ground.
‘‘Tussock acts as an upland water reservoir,’’ she said.
‘‘There are too many invasive plant and animal pests. You used to regularly see rock wrens and kea but they are a rarity now. Cats, possums and stoats are all found at high altitudes.’’
Ms Isles said she had been an environmental/sustainability educator for 27 years and had many concerns about the environment.
‘‘Another concern is that with the increasing use of electronic devices and social media, children and adults are increasingly removed and disconnected from nature,’’ she said.
‘‘We only have one environment and we depend onit for water, food, shelter, air, health, recreation and jobs, yet we continue to exploit it beyond what is sustainable.’’
Ms Iles obtained a BSc in physical geography and a masters degree in environmental education before coming to New Zealand from the United Kingdom 25 years ago, when she managed the Motutapu Outdoor Education Centre under the umbrella of the Auckland Regional Council.
‘‘I was writing and teaching educational programmes in the regional parks, worked for Auckland College of Education, then worked for Enviroschools Canterbury. Enviroschools is a national organisation with more than 700 schools throughout New Zealand.’’
Her interest in the environment started at a young age.
‘‘My parents took me into the outdoors from a very early age, I have early memories of wandering along country lanes in my wellies and being dragged up mountains.
‘‘As I got older, I grew to love being high up on top of mountains, the great expanse of space and views, and I still do.’’
In the United Kingdom, she set up and designed environmental education programmes in the Lake District.
‘‘I enjoyed working with children in the outdoors so decided to do my postgraduate certificate in education in geography and outdoor pursuits. Since then, I have had lots of jobs working with preschools, primary and secondary students in outdoor settings.
‘‘I’m passionate about the New Zealand environment, its amazing native plants and animals, and getting young people especially to spend time enjoying and learning about it.’’
Voice for Nature