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 Alicia Warren, War on Weeds National Coordinator based in Auckland.
Some things I do in my job include:
Raising public awareness of the importance of weed management to protect our nature and our landscapes, supporting community weed management action, and increasing the profile of DOC’s weed work.
The best bit about my job is:
Finding a way to make a difference to our nature and landscapes by using the experience I bring from running large weed projects.
The scariest DOC moment I’ve had so far:
When I first became the supervisor of the Raoul Island staff and its weed programme.
We were travelling back from Raoul Island in 1997 when we were caught in a storm that made it impossible to make headway to the west and reach Auckland.
In the middle of the night the yacht fell off the top of a huge wave and landed on its side, mast in the water. The radio stopped working, and out of about 15 on board there were only three crew members and two DOC staff capable of leaving their bunks and keeping us going.
We just managed to reach the eastern most point of the North Island. We landed the injured at Hicks Bay at midnight where an ambulance was waiting.
Boy, were we pleased to see DOC’s Graeme Atkins and a calm and sunny Hicks Bay the following morning!
The DOC employee that inspired me is:
Rob Young, former manager in Twizel. I found Rob to be inspiring leader and excellent role model. He had enormous integrity and was respected by the community.
On a personal note…
Most people don’t know that:
I set up a Weeders for Conservation Facebook Group.
In my spare time:
I coordinate the Lower Scroggy Stream sustainable neighbourhood group. We are currently weeding and replanting Northall Park, a small reserve in New Lynn with Scroggy Stream running through it.
If I could be any New Zealand native species I’d be:
A kākā trained in weed detection. I’d fly over Raoul Island wearing a geolocator and bring back leaves of the weed I found.
My hero is:
Richard Treacy Henry (1845-1929) who is buried in Hillsborough Cemetery, Auckland. I’m working to find a way to create a memorial to Henry in Auckland. That will give him his rightful place in New Zealanders’ hearts as our first conservation hero, and in the process create conservation awareness about the predator problem within the urban Auckland community.
My most prized possession is:
The BionX electric-assist motor fitted to my mountain bike by my husband for Christmas. Previously I didn’t bike to work because at an average speed of 10-15 km/hr it took an hour to get to work. Now I average 25-30 km/hr and I’m faster than the DOC West Auckland car pool, plus I get 6 hours of exercise a week. It’s significantly decreased both my carbon footprint and my waistline.
Deep and meaningful…
My favourite quote is:
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given came from my granny and mother. Limit your consumption by buying old stuff that is better quality than you could afford new, and then make it last for your whole life. As a result I have a fondness for antique and vintage furniture, china and clothes.
In work and life I am motivated by:
Our volunteers who opt for hard work holidays, for instance on Raoul Island. They put in a huge amount of blood, sweat and tears, sometimes for months on end, to deliver healthier natural landscapes to New Zealand. My body could no longer put up with that kind of punishment. Respect!
My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:
Always hand on any land you own to the next owner with more native biodiversity on it than when you took it on.