6 Ways to be an Environmental Hero

Department of Conservation —  01/04/2022

The winners of the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards have been announced – including a new category, the Environmental Hero of the Year.

The 2022 winner, Charmaine Bailie, has been an inspirational ecologist, ethnobotanist and community leader for more than 20 years. Her dedication and expertise have had a profound impact on restoring our environment and biodiversity.

While the mahi of environmental heroes like Charmaine is critical to our conservation mission, we rely on everyday New Zealanders to do their bit as well. Aotearoa is facing some really big environmental problems that will require big solutions, but the beauty of biodiversity is that individual actions can have visible impacts wherever you are.

We can all help to create an Aotearoa with clean waterways and oceans, flourishing native bush, and birdsong in the city – keeping our people and the environment thriving for generations to come.

1. Respect local habitats

Whether you’re walking around your local area or visiting somewhere new, the principles of the Tiaki Promise always apply. We all have a responsibility to care for land, sea and nature, treading lightly and leaving no trace. Make sure to pick up litter, stick to paths, and leave plants and wildlife undisturbed.

Mossy creek.
Sabine Bernert

2. Exercise your green thumb

If your house has an outdoor area, then weeding, planting natives, and feeding native birds are excellent ways to look after our biodiversity. If not, you could spend some time helping out with planting on public land – find out if there are any community-run projects or check out Conservation Volunteers.

3. Be a responsible pet owner

We love our pets, but cats and dogs damage our biodiversity by disturbing or killing native animals and polluting waterways with their poo. Taking some small actions like keeping your dog on a lead and picking up their waste or making sure your cat has a bell and is inside at night, help to keep wildlife safe.

4. Reduce your waste

Creating lots of waste harms our biodiversity through pollution and contributing to climate change. Reducing waste looks different for everyone. It might look like shopping in bulk, joining a community composting scheme, getting a reusable cup, mindful clothes shopping, or meal planning. There’s no one right way to do it, so do a bit of googling and figure out how you can reduce wate in your household.

Nevis Road – dumped rubbish
📷: Shellie Evans

5. Trap introduced predators

Introduced predators like rats, mice, possums, and stoats are a huge threat to our native animals. DOC, councils, and community groups run trapping programmes on public land, but backyard trapping also plays a crucial role in the Predator Free 2050 vision. It’s pretty easy to set up and maintain a trap, and you can often get free traps from local groups. If trapping isn’t your thing, you can support local trapping groups in other ways, and have a chat to your friends and family that might be keen.

Rangitoto Summit Track pest trap.
📷: Fraser Clement

6. Do your bit for the climate

Many of Aotearoa’s taonga species are threatened by the climate crisis. There are plenty of ways to reduce your impact, so do some research to find some actions that are realistic for you. The Ministry for the Environment’s ‘Take Action’ page is a great place to start.

For more information on what whānau can do to protect Aotearoa’s unique species in the backyard, visit: Get outdoors: Conservation activities (doc.govt.nz)

For teaching resources and more information on volunteering, donating, starting a conservation project, or getting your workplace to support one, visit:  Get involved: New Zealand Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai (doc.govt.nz)

2 responses to 6 Ways to be an Environmental Hero

    Heather Spence 01/04/2022 at 10:08 pm

    The links for trapping predators just gave me a blank web page.