By Lou Sanson, Director-General
Conservation contributors – Andy Dennis and Wally Sander
Sadly last week two well-known conservation leaders passed away.
Andy Dennis loved tramping and the wilderness, and shared this through his many books. He passionately advocated for the protection of land and water through campaigns and submissions, contributing to the establishment of the South Westland Heritage Area, Paparoa National Park, Kahurangi National Park, and Horoirangi Marine Reserve. He spent time in Iceland and had a PhD in Old Icelandic Law from Cambridge. Earlier this year Andy was awarded a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for his services to conservation.
Andy had a wonderful empathy for people and an ability to tell the stories that connected people with the majesty and fragility of our wild places.
Wally Sander started as a park ranger at Egmont National Park in 1957 and went on to become chief ranger at Urewera National Park in 1963 (he led construction of the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk track). In 1970 he set up Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park before becoming chief ranger for Fiordland National Park in 1975 (he was there at the peak of the venison wars and wapiti debates).
Wally was on the establishment unit for DOC and was our first regional manager for Rotorua, Coromandel and Taupo based in Hamilton. In 1989 he moved to DOC’s head office to oversee our international work in Indonesia.
Many of us worked for or with Wally and he made a huge contribution to National Parks and setting DOC up. His proudest achievement was the legacy he left in Te Urewera.
Planning for significant risk events
I was pleased to participate in a forum for Southland mayors and CEOs concerning Milford rockfall and tsunami hazards, along with Police, Fire Service and Civil Defence, on 22 July in Invercargill.
Sarah Stuart-Black, Director of the Ministry for Civil Defence and Emergency Management, presented on risk scenarios relating to major volcanic and earthquake events relating to the alpine fault. With regard to the alpine fault, DOC has more staff at locations like Haast, Franz Josef, Arthur’s Pass and Aoraki/Mt Cook than any other Government agency.
The alpine fault fails around once every 300 years and we are getting close to 300 years since its last failure (a moderate to high likelihood of failure).
Sarah and I will be working with local government and other emergency management agencies to ensure we are actively considering emergency scenarios in the event of DOC staff needing to respond at some of New Zealand’s more remote locations.
We have recently taken all the DOC senior leadership team through Critical Incident Management (CIMS) training and are planning to do CIMS training for all our Directors and Managers and specific site scenarios.
Helping our Pacific neighbours in conservation
Last month Ken Bradley (senior ranger in Te Anau) worked in Apia, Samoa to train local parks staff in high quality track construction that can cope with increasing tropical rainfall events.
He and a local team rerouted the track above Apia to Robert Louis Stevenson’s gravesite – the most popular short walk in Samoa.
As D-G, I very much want to prioritise our international effort on helping our Pacific neighbours, particularly given our culture evolved from the Pacific and as world leaders in conservation it seems appropriate we contribute our skills and knowledge base.
Mervyn English and I have been working with Jonathan Kings, Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s International Development Group, on how DOC contributes best to the Government’s ‘Pacific Framework of Engagement’ to help build a whole Government programme of assistance.
Clearly we will see more projects like Ken Bradley’s in Apia. The optimum areas we will develop further will be staff exchanges, biosecurity, invasive species and island eradication projects.
The Nature Conservancy sets up in New Zealand
Last week Hilary Aikman and Rosemary Miller led a workshop with 25 key players in New Zealand freshwater restoration to introduce the newly established operation of The Nature Conservancy in New Zealand.
Michael Looker will be the inaugural New Zealand director. TNC’s Director of Water (North America) Michael Reuter came out from the USA and presented on TNC’s work on river restoration in the United States. TNC has agreed to partner with others to place a focus on three key areas in conservation:
• Freshwater restoration
• Marine ecosystems
• Pacific conservation
TNC has 1 million members internationally and is the largest philanthropic conservation organisation in the world with an annual budget of USD $1 billion
This initiative resulted from a meeting with Minister Barry, Kay Booth and myself at the World Parks Forum in Sydney in November 2013.
Michael will be based on our Wellington office initially while he sets up the TNC in New Zealand. He will be looking to partnership models to build capacity across New Zealand and to help build funding for other NGOs as well.
With their freshwater and marine focus, the TNC hope to learn and expand their learnings to other parts of the world.