NZ POSSUM: THE NOT SO CUDDLY SIDE OF OUR FAVOURITE YARN & WHY WE LOVE IT
Here at ELKA we feel possum yarn is full of harmonious contradictions, it is delicate but hardy, breathable yet insulating, and is light but undeniably warm all at once. But how often do we consider the effects of its production on our environment?
Prior to colonization, New Zealand was one of few environments without native predators.
Following the introduction of the Brushtail Possum from Australia in the early 19th century, populations have boomed causing destruction and becoming one of NZ's greatest ecological threats.
In a predator-free environment, the possum feasts on native vegetation not adapted with herbivorous defenses, often enjoying the lush new growth over older mature leaves. This has huge impacts on our native flora such as Rata and Totara as they are unable to survive and reproduce.
This also has cascading ecological implications in other ways, the death of native trees in our forests reduces food and safe habitats for our native fauna, and further promotes invasive species spread.
As well as enjoying the tasty greens NZ bush has to offer, no less than 20 tonnes of vegetation per night, possums are omnivorous and pillage native bird species nests.
Their diet has caused devastation to our native bird populations, with many unable to recover and requiring intervention.
The Department of Conservation has breeding programs to help our bird populations recover, but also eradication programs that aim to reduce possum populations.
Possum population control is a necessity in the New Zealand environment to ensure we don't lose the remainder of our native flora and fauna. It is through these programs that possum fur is collected.
Once collected, the de-haired soft down of the possum is blended with the highest quality ultra fine Merino and Mulberry Silk, resulting in a luxurious and exclusive fibre we use in many of our ELKA creations.
We love it for its durability, comfort, and feel. It has a higher resistance to pilling, it is 55% warmer than merino and 35% warmer than cashmere, and even has moisture repelling properties. These qualities are due to the unique hollow structure of possum fibre as well as the finishing processes used during creation.
It's safe to say this beautiful fibre is an ecologically conscious alternative to other natural fibres, proving to be more sustainable and of higher quality, not to mention the result of conservation efforts right here in New Zealand.
How can that not make you feel good?