Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Today we profile DOC ranger Jenny Long, based in Nelson Lakes
Plucky little tomtit caught by mistnet while I was accompanying a PhD student studying avian malaria
Some things I do in my job include…
My main job is to run one of the six trial sites for DOC’s self-resetting trap trial.
Monitoring wrybill and oystercatcher breeding and survival in the Rangitata River as part of a wind farm mitigation project
This one is based at the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project (RNRP) Mainland Island in Nelson Lakes National Park.
This involves collecting data on trap performance, monitoring mustelids and ensuring the traps in the field are set up and checked correctly.
I also get to join in with a wide range of other biodiversity work including monitoring native species like weka, robins and kākā, trapping/poisoning other pest species and engaging with volunteers and other members of the public.
This helps achieve DOC’s vision by…
Mainland Islands were created to be places where we could test new methods and technology, so our work in the RNRP is geared towards improving techniques for tackling conservation challenges nationwide.
The work my teammates and I do also directly helps protect the native species within the area that we do pest control, as well as helping to spread the conservation message to the wider public when they come to visit Nelson Lakes and enjoy the wildlife and stunning views.
The best bit about my job is…
Spending most of my time outdoors amongst the beautiful mountains of Nelson Lakes, doing something I really care about, and working with great like-minded people.
Most scenic stoat trapline in this neck of the woods–along the top of the St Arnaud range
The most surreal DOC moment I’ve had so far was…
When we had the NZ Air Force (who have a training base nearby) helping us to take out an old hut, and I was flying along above the forest in a noisy open-sided Iroquois helicopter with soldiers in uniform… I felt like I was in a Vietnam war movie!
Catch of the day: a stoat with racing stripes!
The DOC employee that inspires or enthuses me most is…
Everyone I’ve met in DOC has been pretty inspiring, from the scientists who do the research to inform decisions, through to the managers who make those decisions, to the rangers who make it all happen by slogging around the hills day in, day out.
But one person who stands out for me is of course my partner Joris Tinnemans, beech tree-shooter extraordinaire, who is always so cheerful and enthusiastic no matter how wet the West Coast bush, how uncooperative the birds he’s trying to monitor, or how many anchors he’s lost overboard!
On a personal note
The song that always cheers me up is…
Longtime by Salmonella Dub. Works every time.
If I could trade places with any other person for a week it would be…
The person back in time who was most instrumental in introducing mustelids to New Zealand and I’d change my mind!
The best thing to do after a long hot day working at Lake Rotoiti!
My best ever holiday was…
Going to Transylvania (in Romania) with Joris to do volunteer work for a PhD student studying the impact on large carnivores of Romania’s drive for development since joining the EU. It was fascinating seeing the old sustainable lifestyle of the Transylvanian villagers and the incredible biodiversity in their mosaic of forest, wood pastures and small farms. It was also a joy to see carnivorous mammals like foxes, martens and bears in an ecosystem where they belong.
If I could be any New Zealand native species I’d be…
A peripatus (velvet worms)! They look like pudgy worms with legs, how could anyone not love them?
If I wasn’t working at DOC, I’d like to…
In my dream world I’d love to travel around the world doing conservation work, learning the languages of local people and finding out different ways of approaching the wide variety of conservation challenges we face worldwide. Of course, in my dream world I could also do this without burning tonnes of fossil fuels on long haul flights…
Deep and meaningful
My favourite quote is…
There are oodles of witty and inspiring quotes to choose from, but a more serious one that helps whenever I’m getting overly frustrated at not being able to solve the world’s environmental problems single-handed is this one:
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is…
“Give it a go”—given to me by my parents about every single idea I’ve had for a change in life direction, including about-turns between studying graphics, doing a car mechanic course, studying linguistics and marine biology at university, going to vet school, mountain-bike instructing in America, leaving my GIS job to go back to uni to study Wildlife Management… and so on.
I don’t regret any of the things I’ve tried my hand at, I’ve met so many great people and had a lot of memorable experiences.
My awesome parents got me outdoors right from the beginning! Here’s dad taking me abseiling at Mt Ruapehu when I was two
In work and life I am motivated by…
The friendly and inspiring people I meet everywhere, the beauty of nature, and the unfailing ability of life to be funny and take you by surprise. Like when you’ve organised to go on a great chocolate-fuelled tramping trip over Easter, only to end up in hospital on nil-by-mouth with a second bout of appendicitis (it can happen) while surrounded by taunting Easter eggs from well-meaning visitors!
My conservation advice to New Zealanders is…
It’s not a new idea, but for anyone who is already passionate about conservation my advice would be to do your best to share this passion with others who aren’t already involved.
Take friends of friends tramping/kayaking/biking, give family a bird-feeder and stoat trap set for Christmas, become a scout leader and take kids on outdoors trips to get them stoked on nature early—there are myriad ways to spread your enthusiasm and help make it normal to be environmentally aware.
Question of the week
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to and why?
I would change it to Basil, because there aren’t enough Basils in the world these days.