This weekend the New Zealand Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society had their 92nd Annual General Meeting in Wellington. As the longest standing conservation non-government organisation (NGO) in New Zealand, formed in 1923, one of their roles has always been to act as a watch dog, such as the landmark protests against the raising of Lake Manapouri and logging of Pureora Forest in the 1970s. This has also always been paired with a hands-on approach to conservation, with 50 active branches around the country engaged in restoration projects. Indeed Forest and Bird sponsored the first rat eradication in New Zealand.
Along with Alan Saunders I was invited to present an update and perspective on Predator Free New Zealand, and we also heard about the exciting progress the Sea Change project is making towards developing a package for the conservation of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park in Auckland, and the environmental ethics of tree climbing protests. One of the resounding messages from the conference was that the remit of Forest and Bird has evolved well beyond its original scope of Forests and Birds, including other native species such as bats and weta, to include marine conservation and the forthcoming impact of climate change, with an evening lecture from Professor David Frame making the important connections between climate change science and policy.
With the New Zealand sea lion declared an endangered species this week, and its conservation one of Forest and Bird’s campaigns for over a decade, it is clear the society is as important as it ever was since its formation nearly a century ago.