D-G Direct: An update from Lou Sanson

Department of Conservation —  17/09/2016

By Lou Sanson, Director-General

Conservation Week

Last week, I travelled the country attending our three Conservation Week partner events in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. I was privileged to talk to our partners and hear first-hand their experiences of working with DOC. The feedback has been very positive, with many talking about Predator Free 2050 and what this means for New Zealand.

The theme for this year’s Conservation Week was again Healthy Nature Healthy People, focused on the benefits of getting outdoors and experiencing nature. The campaign’s tagline was “Join the Team” and from what I saw, thousands of Kiwis are up for the challenge of living a healthier, happier lifestyle by getting out into ‘Our Nature’ and taking action for conservation.

Also, real recognition is due to Peter Yealands for providing top quality Yealands wine at our partner events; as well as his company’s commitment of resources for Queen Charlotte Track and wilding pines work.

Lou Sanson and Nicola Toki at the Wellington event for Conservation Week.

Lou Sanson and Nicola Toki at the Wellington event for Conservation Week

International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Congress

I was rapt to lead the New Zealand delegation at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Congress in Hawai’i this month, along with DOC’s Deputy Director-General (Partnerships), Kay Booth.

Lou with NZCA representative Mark Christensen at the conference.

Lou with NZCA representative Mark Christensen at the conference

The Congress is held every four years and this year had 9,000 representatives from 192 countries and 400 NGOs.

Significantly, the Congress was held on the day after President Obama had announced the expansion of Papahānaumokuākea marine national monument to create the world’s largest marine protected area and attended the Pacific Island Conference of Leaders.

Predator Free 2050 was warmly received by the audience as a world-leading initiative – it was a very proud moment for the New Zealand delegation.

Other highlights included DOC staff leading workshops on the cultural and spiritual values of nature and on partnerships to strengthen migratory bird pathways. Our strategic partnerships manager Andrew Bignell was also re-elected as one of the Oceania Regional Councillors for IUCN.

At the Congress, I met with the US Army’s O’ahu Army Natural Resources Program to hear about their work using Goodnature traps to kill rats and mongoose on Oahu Island. It was fantastic to see this New Zealand-developed technology being applied to control pests in other parts of the world.

Visiting Croatia’s national parks

Over my recent holidays, I visited two extraordinary Croatian national parks I’ve always wanted to see. The first was a visit to Kornati National Park off the coast of Zadar in the Adriatic Sea. These 64 islands are dramatic limestone outcrops of original sea floor uplifted from the Tethys Ocean before the Mediterranean was created followed by glaciation. They’re bleak and very hot in summer, freezing and stormy in winter. Walking is difficult over jagged limestone – but the scenery is stunning and visitor numbers are relatively low.

Kornati Island, Kornati National Park.

Kornati Island, Kornati National Park

My other visit was to Plitvice Lakes National Park – an area of karst landscape with hundreds of waterfalls and lakes set amongst forest in inland Croatia. It is rapidly becoming one of highest-use National Parks in Europe with an annual 50% increase in visitors over last two years, bringing it to two million visitors a year. The Croatian National Park Service had developed their infrastructure to cope with these high numbers. The $25 (NZD) entry fee includes use of boats and shuttle buses. Carparks are charged at around $5 an hour. These fees help to fund most of the Croatian National Park service.

Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Kiwibank gets behind our Conservation Dogs

It’s great to see Kiwibank coming on board to support our Conservation Dogs programme. DOC uses highly trained dogs to support our conservation work all over the country – in fact, we were among the first in the world to train dogs for conservation work.

Pest detection dogs like Pai and Piri can detect the presence of target pests such as stoats, rodents and cats. They play a critical role in conservation and quarantine work on our pest-free islands. We also have species-detection dogs like Neo – they’re trained to detect native species (mainly birds) so their handlers can capture the animals for banding, monitoring or relocation.

Through this new partnership, we’ll able to build on the great work our specialist trained dogs and handlers are doing, and develop an advocacy programme to promote greater awareness and protection of our pest-free islands and conservation dog work.

It’s also fantastic to see Kiwibank getting in behind our Conservation Dogs and the larger Predator Free vision by establishing a new community programme with the Predator Free New Zealand Trust.

Pai and Piri sporting their new coats..

Pai and Piri sporting their new coats.

2 responses to D-G Direct: An update from Lou Sanson

    Al Robinson 20/09/2016 at 7:02 am

    Yep that’s NZ…Auckland Wellington and Christchurch.

    Branko Galic 20/09/2016 at 3:56 am

    Dear Mr. Lou,

    I was pleasantly surprised seeing your article about Croatia and your impressions, I am Croatian, living last 15 years in Oman.

    I always feel good when someone discovers my country and especially when it comes from people of your profile.

    By the way, what about Oman?

    One day you should come to discover so many things in this beautiful, tolerant and quiet piece of land, on the East corner of Arabian Peninsula.

    bet regards

    Branko Galic, prof. Managing Director United Agents Middle East llc P.O.Box 705, MSQ, P.C.115 Muscat, Sultanate of Oman tel. 00 968 2460 4870 gsm 00 968 9399 0016 skype: brankogalic16