New Zealand’s lush green scenery brought Lord of the Rings to life – but lately the country has been facing a plight far worse than any sorcerer’s curse. The North Island of New Zealand is experiencing the worst drought it has seen in 30 years. The damage to the country’s vegetation is so bad that it can be seen from space, and satellite images show areas that have turned brown from lack of water. The capital of Wellington has only 18 days of water remaining, and parts of the South Island could soon be hit.

lord of the rings, new zealand, north island, south island, wellington, water, drought, rain, farmers, derek spratt, rural support trust, national insitute of water and atmospheric researchNew Zealand photo from Shutterstock

Farmers drive New Zealand‘s economy, and they’ve estimated their losses due to drought at $820 million. They are hoping that rain projected this weekend will help ease the strain of the worst dry spell New Zealand has seen in the past three decades. Those in the agricultural sector are currently receiving federal aid in order to deal with the crisis. “What we are telling our farmers is forget about this season, start concentrating on next season,” Derek Spratt, the chairman of New Zealand’s Rural Support Trust.

An outright ban on outdoor water use has been issued in Wellington, however the levels of local rivers are still dropping despite the reduced demand. The government’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research predicts that those living in the southern part of the North Island can expect instances of drought to increase by 10% by the middle of the century.

Via BBC News

Images via Flickr users Dave Young and CIAT