Human Footprints

The effect of early humans on New Zealand forests is being studied by scientists from Montana State University in a project titled “Ecosystem resilience to human impacts: ecological consequences of early human-set fires in New Zealand.” Assistant research professor in earth sciences Dave McWethy and professor of earth sciences Cathy Whitlock chose New Zealand because humans arrived here only 7 years ago, and changes to the environment after people arrived were dramatic. “Our goal is to better understand how the first peoples of New Zealand influenced the environment and how resilient landscapes were to human activity,” McWethy said. “New Zealand provides a unique setting for examining human impacts because the country was settled fairly recently during a time of relatively stable climate. In addition, the wet forests of New Zealand were highly sensitive to disturbances, such as fire.”

Tags: Cathy Whitlock  Dave McWethy  environment  first peoples of NZ  human impact  Montana State University  New Zealand  NZ forests