Opening of first track at Project Rameka

A new track, called Great Expectations, will be opened at Project Rameka on Saturday the 21st of November. It is approximately 2.5 km long and provides a single track alternative to the steepest part of the Rameka Road. Come along on Saturday and help polish this great new track into shape, then enjoy a well earned BBQ lunch. The afternoon will consist of taking photos and testing the track.

Great Expectations will be open to walkers, runners and bikers, and is suitable for riding up as well as down.

Please respect that this track is in a carbon sink. Park your car for the day, and enjoy recreating in Project Rameka under human-power.

After track building on Saturday morning, there will be a work party on Sunday to weed around the trees planted in August.

Everyone is welcome, and there are tools available. Hope to see you there – Jonathan and Bronnie.



Ricky Ward at the very bottom of Great Expectations, where it meets Rameka Creek Road. The photo was by Patrick Ward. They had both just finished a session of track building.

Critical Climate Change update

Critical Climate Change update

Throughout this year Victoria University have been holding a series of seminars
on Climate Change. Last night they presented a homegrown world leader on the subject – Dr David Wratt from NIWA.

Dr Wratt is also a lead scientist for IPCC, so I was particularly interested to hear his presentation, as IPCC have been heavily criticised lately for being too conservative in their 2007 scenarios.

Here is his presentation in a nutshell,

1. Global warming since 1900 is absolutely certain. Sea level is rising and snow and ice cover is decreasing.
2. Greenhouse gases have increased from human activity.
3. In 2007, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that there is a 90% probability that human activity is causing the warming.
4. Since 2007, new science has confirmed that:
· Temperatures have been at the upper end of IPCC projections
· global emissions have been at the upper end of IPCC projections
· Antarctica is also warming
· melting of ice sheets is more likely
· ocean acidification from CO2 is more likely
· the emission released now, will cause changes that are irreversible

So where did IPCC go wrong?

Well, it’s not that they were wrong, but just that they really were too conservative.

Lets take sea level for example. Their 2007 projection was for only 18-59cm of sea level rise, BUT that was excluding any ice sheet melting. Now, only two years later, Dr Wratt says 80-100cm is likely, and that some papers are suggesting up to 2 metres.

Furthermore, he believes we are currently on track to get 2-4 degrees temperature rise this century, which will lead to 7 metres sea level rise.

He went on to list all the other major effects of climate change if emissions are not drastically reduced. It was a looooooonnng list of dangerous climatic changes, which, in a typically unemotive scientific egghead way he summarised by saying:

“These findings strengthen the reasons for concern.”

It was like listening to HAL, the computer in 2001 A Space Odyssey.

Thousands of species will become extinct, and people will die in the millions from starvation, drought, floods, etc….
“These findings strengthen the reasons for concern.”

Then he moved on to the targets that are being currently discussed by politicians, which reminded me of Kashi Leuchs and his 350 campaigning (see

It was Dr Wratt’s view that atmospheric concentrations of 350-400 parts per million (that’s where we are now), will inevitably result in 2.0-2.4 degrees warming, and 0.4-1.4m sea level rise, by the year 2100. That would spell D.I.S.A.S.T.E.R. for most developing countries – indeed it will wipe some of our pacific neighbours off the map if we let it happen.

Unfortunately, because CO2 has such a long life, to avoid this disastrous scenario there would have to be emissions reductions in the range of 50-85% by 2050, followed by a downward trajectory to zero emissions.

Is this possible, I wondered? The current National Government has an ETS bill before parliament that only aims for 50% reductions by 2050, and does virtually nothing in the next 5 years to actually reach that target. In other words, they’ll do as little as possible, for as long as possible, so as not to harm the economy.

At this point someone from the audience jumped in and stated the obvious: “WE NEED TO START REDUCING NOW OR WE WON’T MEET OUR TARGETS”.

Dr Wratt, calmly agreed.

Someone else asked “WHAT ABOUT POPULATION?”

Dr Wratt, calmly pointed out that the targets were regardless of population and as the population grows emissions reductions becomes more challenging.


Dr Wratt calmly replied that such tipping points currently involved too many scientific uncertainties, so IPCC had not factored them into their scenarios.

I left the seminar firmly believing that we are currently committing the biggest humanitarian crime in history. Food, land, life and hope, is being robbed from future generations on a scale that no despot of the past ever achieved.

Action is needed on two levels – political and personal.

Our politicians will not aim for safe reductions in emissions unless we/you ask them to accept the best science available and aim for less than 2 degrees, or as Kashi Leuchs puts it, 350 ppm (check out, or as Lucy Lawless puts it 40% by 2020 (check out

On a personal level, how can we become informed and have enough vision to see and feel the impacts that will affect those people and places we love? And, more critically (because the environment doesn’t respond to what we feel, or think), how can we take action to reduce our personal emissions, starting now?


350 Planting at Rameka

Last weekend saw a flurry of activity at Project Rameka as over 70 people headed up the hill to plant trees. Our aim was to join the global 350 movement (see and plant 350 trees a day for three days in a row.

The plan went awry before the first tree was in the ground because of generous last-minute donations of trees. All of a sudden we had 1250 plants!

The first 350 went in on Friday morning with the help of 30 Motupipi Primary School kids, 10 teachers and parents, 10 teenagers from Golden Bay High School, and a few Wellingtonians. Wahoo! What a crazy whirlwind of activity. We were stunned by lunchtime.


Planters ready for 350 trees.


350 Trees going in the ground, with plant guards.


350 trees planted and ready to absorb Co2.

In the afternoon, Phil Castle turned up with a van-load of flaxes, and the Golden Bay High School troopers continued planting, so another 220 plants nestled their way into their new homes.

Patrick, Phil and Jonathan in action.

On Saturday, the planting procession was a little more orderly. 18 determined vollies managed to liberate 500 trees into the carbon sink. Thanks that day to Patrick, Corina, Fill, Albie, Chris, Jeff, Andrew, Simon, Karyn, Brent, James, Marie, Martin, Derry, Paul, Ginny, Bronnie and Jonathan. Matt was there too, roaming the Project for a few nights, shooting anything that might try to eat the lovely new seedlings.

Fill’s famous hearty soup and homemade bread. No wonder we planted so many trees.

On Sunday, the forecast was terrible, but Andrew, Ginny, Patrick, Bronnie and Jonathan managed to home the remaining trees before the heavens opened. And what a storm it was! The following day we checked all the plants and fixed any wayward plant guards. Now it’s all over to photosynthesis.

Rameka Track Updates

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Martin Langley from the Quiet Revolution Cycle Shop in Takaka called today to report on progress at Rameka. On Sunday he had been up at Canaan Downs in foul weather, so they bailed out early and headed down the Rameka Track to Project Rameka, with Big Bruce taking their vehicle back to Takaka.

Down in the Project they found the first 1.8km of ‘Great Expectations’ in good condition. Then they came across Mr Baigent, accompanied by his two dogs on the track. And the Track! Along the ‘Cliff’ section it was now almost four feet wide!

Rolling on down, Martin passed a lot of his own recent handiwork, as the track now winds out of the pines and down into the scrub for 100 metres. Then it’s time to carry your bike. But at least you can walk through now, and this is largely thanks to Ricky and Patrick Ward who have been hard at work, designing and clearing the route right through to the Rameka Creek Road (just a few hundred metres above the ford).

Good going everyone. We can’t wait to get over there and check it out. For now though, big thanks to Martin for the up-date. We’ll see you in the last week of August for tree planting 🙂

Latest science on sea level rise

Last Tuesday I attended the Inaugural Lecture by Professor Tim Naish – Understanding Ice Sheets and Sea-levels

Project Rameka Trustee Simon Johnson suggested I put some lecture notes on this blog as Dr Nick Smith is currently travelling around the country consulting with the public on emissions targest for 2020. He will be in Nelson on Friday the 17th July. Paul Kennett has put further details on

Professor Naish gave a fascinating lecture to a packed house. Here is a summary of the notes:

Background: In 2001 IPCC said the max expected sea level rise this century would be 0.88m. Then in 2007 IPCC decided to remove all scientific uncertainties and said it would be 0.18 min to max 0.59m (the range is because there are a range of emissions scenarios – note that earlier this year IPCC said global emissions were higher than their highest scenario had projected). This has resulted in a lot of scientific work to remove the uncertainties.

Prof Naish has specialised in sea level rise, and recently managed the Andril Program in Antarctica where four nations collaborated to get the best icecore samples ever (98% readable), and deeper than ever (1000m). The results correlated surprisingly well with scientific work done in other parts of the world.

In summary, 1.0 m sea level rise this century is now the mainstream expectation in the scientific community.
2m by 2100 is possible if there is ‘Runaway Retreat” (ie, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet erodes rapidly) and some scientists believe that we are seeing the start of this now.

This rise will not be globally uniform.

If, as some expect, runaway retreat happens then parts of the northern hemisphere (ie Canada and the USA) will have 4m sea level rise by 2200.

He finished by saying that Copenhagen negotiations later this year were critical to determine future pathways. The last time we had 350-400 mil ppm co2 in the atmosphere the world was +3-4 degrees warmer (in 1900 we had 280-290 co2 ppm).

He pointed out that 60 million people now live within 1 m of sea level, and that that will grow to 130 million people this century.

In a nutshell, he didn’t want to be scare mongering, but the less that is done, the faster and more severe will be the climate change.

Unfortunately, judging from Dr Nick Smith’s address, our government will be using 2007 science at Copenhagen. This underestimates the impacts of climate change.

Professor Naish’s final slide was of his two small children.