I know this is going to sound nerdy, but hey, I don’t care : I am a huge fan of Tolkien’s novels and I was thrilled to hear they were about to start shooting a pair of epic fantasy movies based on “The Hobbit”. To be even more accurate, these movies are currently shot in New Zealand at the exact same place where the « Lord of The Rings » Trilogy was shot. Because I am also a business student with an interest in « serious » economic issues, I did a bit of research on that, and found out that those films did a great deal to promote New Zealand as a must-see ecotourism destination and spur the country’s tourism trade (Air New Zealand even branded itself the “airline to Middle Earth”), fitting nicely with the country ’s “100% Pure New Zealand” marketing slogan, first used a couple of years earlier. And then I began to wonder : all that money spent on advertising on how green a country New Zealand is, basically, is dedicated to build up a mass tourism industry, which is not exactly renowned for its eco-friendliness. So is this all for the show ? The image New Zealand attempted to show the world attempts to hide a far dirtier reality, including the world’s third-highest rate of car ownership , and methane-belching cows that help to push agricultural emissions to almost half the country’s total. When tackled on these claims by an Australian reporter, New Zealand’s prime minister John Key angrily dismissed them as “bollocks”, pointing to his country’s efforts to tackle its emissions by energetically planting trees that would re-absorb them. But local papers took up the theme. “New Zealand: 100 per cent pure hype” ironically claimed the New Zealand Herald. “We are clean and green, but only relatively speaking and by accident rather than conscious effort.” The ruggedness of much of New Zealand’s terrain may have protected its film-friendly uplands, but at lower elevations farming has stripped away forests, eroded hills and clogged rivers with silt and fertiliser run-off. When considering the efforts New Zealand towards a more balanced growth pattern, some actual good policies are to be noted : In 2007 an “Environmental Performance Review of New Zealand” by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) noted a series of improvements over the past ten years: better approaches to recycling and water treatment; reforestation of pasture to prevent erosion; strengthened efforts to preserve endangered species; the removal of agricultural and fishing subsidies; and, by OECD standards, a high use of renewable energy sources, at 30% of supply. However, the report also pointed to new environmental pressures, such as growing demand for electricity that was leading to greater use of fossil fuels for power generation, and climbing car ownership that failed to be matched by measures such as road pricing.