Where the wild things are

Over the holiday break, we have been spending time at our little holiday house in the Pohangina Valley, in the Manawatu. We have been making an effort to get to know how our community here - both human and otherwise. This includes day-time bird spotting and night forays out to the glow worm grotto at the bottom of the gully. We have also heard from a neighbour that an albino deer makes regular trips down from the Ranges to the river, via the gully, but we haven't glimpsed this ghost-like creature yet.

Some of our encounters are just as unexpected though, like this astoundingly spiky but entirely benign stick insect that my husband found. This got me wondering, how many creatures dwell on our block of land (which includes a substantial area of bush), that we are unaware of.

Wouldn't it be great, if - rather like the financial audits we get for our businesses - we could call up an expert (or a team of experts) and get them to come and do a biodiversity audit of our homes, farms or lifestyle blocks - including insects, birds, lizards, frogs, plants and fungi.

This knowledge would create a much greater appreciation of terrestrial environments (even relatively small urban and suburban ones) as habitats, a good sense of the overall health of the land we are stewards of, and provide a better understanding of what we can do to help encourage a greater diversity of creatures to make our properties home. Imagine then being able to pass this knowledge - and the sense of wonder that comes with it - to children, so that it is just becomes part of their natural 'realm of knowing', allowing them to be even better stewards of the environment.

Wouldn't it be great if in a generation or so, 'biodiversity audit' or 'biodiversity auditor' became as common-place - and regarded with as just as important - as an accountant or financial advisor is today?

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