SAC # 43: Extraction, Expansion and Intensification: a historical material flow analysis of New Zealandís Biomass Metabolism 1860-2000



18 October 2007, 4- 5:30pm


Seminar Room, Centre for Innovation, 87 St. David St.


Markus Gradwohl, CSAFE, University of Otago


New Zealand?s transition after 1840 was characterised by rapid development, driven by imperial and economic interests. The available technology and energy along with the sheer number of colonists brought about changes in nature-society relations of previously unknown extent and intensity and corresponding massive changes to the landscape and ecosystems of the islands. An examination of this transition regarding the flows of biomass between New Zealand?s society and its environment between 1860 and 2000 is topic of this talk. The concept of socio-economic metabolism provides a framework through which to study the interrelations between human societies and their natural environments in a way that is compatible with ecological and economic models. The methods of material and energy flow analysis (MEFA) serve as the core device for understanding and analysing material exchange of societies and their natural environments, the feedbacks that transform both social and natural systems and the biophysical limitations of the systems involved.

About the Speaker

Currently based at CSAFE, Markus Gradwohl has a background in Ecology (MSc, University of Vienna) and specialises in research on the interaction between human societies and their environment. His PhD project, supported by the New Zealand International Doctoral Research Scholarship Programme, investigates the co- evolution of New Zealand?s socio-ecological systems.