In New Zealand a river has been recognized as an indivisible and living whole from the mountains to the sea. The legal representation recognizes the deep spiritual connection of the Whanganui Iwi and the Whanganui River. This precedent-setting decision could have far reaching implications. I don’t understand law but having been involved with many environmental reviews I have seen how the defense of the environment is often by extension (e.g. harm to the environment is only deemed harmful if that harm causes harm to humans or to protected species). This new legal status may mean that the environment can be protected even if there are no endangered species or human values at immediate risk.

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