Beauty in Destruction
by Kevin He -- January 4th, 2013

My recent trip to New Zealand also brought up an interesting question: can something ruined still create something beautiful?


Buried Village, Fallen Trees

Once known for grandiose trees that protected its visitors from the sun, the Buried Village now proudly proclaims its efforts in cutting them down

Buried Village, Ravaged Forest

Once a beautiful, shaded walk, now visitors are left to contemplate the scars of those efforts


New Zealand is well-known for its absolute abundance of sheep


Sheep farm turned permanent movie set

Party Tree

A tree in sad decline


Efforts such as these are notable throughout New Zealand to protect the welfare of their native species

Prevention Part 2

New Zealand is notable for efforts such as these throughout their national parks to protect the well-being of their native species

Volcanic Beauty

Natural destruction also creates beauty in landscapes such as this

Natural Erosion

The power of the ocean also provides for some of the most beautiful of landscapes and textures


  1. Tawnee
    Jan 4, 2013

    Wonderful pictures and good question, Kevin. New Zealand is one of my favorite places, and I’m glad you had the chance to visit. While I was there, I worked on several eco restoration projects, and the attitude I encountered toward conservation was surprising. In fact, one of my project leaders often said, “Conservation is all about killing s#$*.” I think many people who see the beauty of the country don’t realize it has so many ecological challenges and has experienced such destruction!

    Why does the Buried Village that you mentioned celebrate the cutting down of their trees?

    • Kevin He
      Kevin He
      Jan 4, 2013

      I suppose “celebrate” would be a strong word for it. Apparently the trees were dangerous since they were getting large and branches were falling and could potentially harm visitors. As such their proposed solution was now to just cut everything down.

      I couldn’t help but think that there would have been other solutions to this problem. Instead, they now have replaced this forest walk with little wooden signs with photos of their tree-cutting progress.

      And I’m surprised to hear that that was the attitude you encountered there. I got the feeling that conservation was a much more pervasive and subtle mentality considering the quality and extent of efforts throughout the country towards preserving what still exists.

      • Tawnee Milko
        Tawnee Milko
        Jan 4, 2013

        I also find it strange that their solution was to just cut everything down – and not at least plant some smaller trees to replace the ones eliminated. You’d think part of the draw to visiting this village would be the arboreal feel to it. (though perhaps not)

        I wonder if the trees cut down in the village were invasive species. The attitude toward conservation that I mentioned was largely directed toward invasives, rather than the natural (and native) beauty of the country. So many invasive species have begun to wreak havoc in NZ (possums, gorse, wattle, pampas grass, to name a very few), that the only way many Kiwis have been able to deal with them is simply by trying to eradicate them.

        We always replanted native flora when we pulled out invasives, though.

  2. Megan
    Jan 11, 2013

    Thanks for sharing these photos, Kevin!
    New Zealand is a really interesting place to think about conservation issues. With all the invasive animals and plants, like Tawnee mentioned, as well as the country’s reliance on both agriculture and tourism as major components of GDP, things can get complicated quickly!

©2016 Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University | Box 90328 | Durham, NC 27708
how to contact us > | login to the site > | site disclaimers >

footer nav stuff