Story: Human effects on the environment

Fossil charcoal fragments

Fossil charcoal fragments

This is a microscopic view of fragments of charcoal (black) and pollen grains (pink) from an ancient swamp deposit. Microscopic studies from a number of sites showed that charcoal appeared suddenly about 1280–1350 AD, at the same time as tree pollen decreased. This is believed to be caused by deliberate burning soon after the first humans arrived and settled in New Zealand.

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Landcare Research – Manaaki Whenua
Photograph by Janet Wilmshurst

© Copyright image. All rights reserved. Permission from Manaaki Whenua: Landcare Research New Zealand Limited must be obtained before the re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Janet Wilmshurst, 'Human effects on the environment - Pre-European deforestation', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 19 September 2021)

Story by Janet Wilmshurst, published 24 Sep 2007