Encounters with Nature-as-a-Legal-Person in New Zealand

Date: Tue. 6 Feb, 2018 4:10 pm - 5:10 pm
Duration: 1 Hour

The COA Human Ecology Forum is a free, weekly speaker series based on the work of the academic community, which also draws on artists, poets and political and religious leaders from around the world. Members of the public are invited to attend. Location: College of the Atlantic, McCormick Lecture Hall, 105 Eden Street Bar Harbor Contact: John Visvader jvisvader@coa.edu


Cline spent 2 months in 2017 traveling and studying the unique legal settlements regarding the Whanganui River and former Te Urewera National Park on the North Island of New Zealand. He will discuss these travels and will highlight the specific worldview of the Maori – the indigenous peoples of New Zealand – and how their ancestral claims and the Treaty of Waitangi resulted in this novel legal experiment. Cline will conclude by discussing how a similar legal arrangement might resolve century-old disputes regarding management of the Penobscot River in Maine and the legal rights of the Penobscot Indian Nation.

Cline is professor of environmental law and policy at College of the Atlantic. He is the inaugural holder of the David Rockefeller Family Chair in Ecosystem Management and Protection, through which he coordinates the collaboration between COA and Acadia National Park. He is a member of the IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas and the World Commission on Environmental Law. Cline has done extensive work with local, national, and international river and land conservation groups in the US, and in Chile, Turkey, Tobago, Mexico, France, and India. Most recently he has done research in New Zealand on Maori legal rights and a new paradigm for managing rivers and land that gives legal standing to nature. Cline has been a longstanding volunteer leader for the Sierra Club serving on the Conservation Governance Committee and National Rivers Committee and various positions in the Maine chapter. He co-authored a book focusing on the lakes and streams of Acadia National Park and surrounding lands and was recently appointed to Acadia National Park Commission.