Emeritus Professor, Sir Alan Mark is one of New Zealand’s leading plant ecologists, specialising in the ecology of indigenous ecology of tussock grasslands, alpine lands, wetlands, shrublands, forests and lakeshores. He was one of the first to break the cloak of academic silence to speak out on a wide range of conservation issues. He first became actively involved in conservation over the raising of Lake Manapouri– and played a key role in linking science with conservation. He is a Forest & Bird Conservation Ambassador and was a president (1987-1990); and the first Chairperson of the Guardians of Lakes Manapouri and Te Anau. Sir Alan was made a fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1987 and was a member of National Parks and Reserves Authority and later the NZ Conservation Authority. Now retired, he is still actively involved in conservation. He was made a knight for his conservation work in 2010. Click here to go back to Sir Alan's story.
Les and his wife Olive were long-time Southland Branch members and worked hard defending the environmental values of Fiordland National Park. They were heavily involved in campaigning against raising of Lakes Manapouri and Te Anau. Les passed away in 2003 and was posthumously knighted.Click here to go back to Les's story.
Former Chair of our West Coast branch, Bill Gilbertson played an active role in halting the native logging of our West Coast forest. The Government-sponsoring logging of 130,000 ha of low-land forest was put to an end after a 25 year campaign. The land was transferred into DOC’s hands in 2001. Gilbertson also played a significant role in establishing a world heritage site in South Westland (link here) in 1990 – a park that covers 10% of New Zealand’s land area.Click here to go back to Bill's story.
Dr Gerry McSweeny is a Conservation Ambassador and Distinguished Life Member of Forest & Bird, and has contributed significantly to the organisation’s achievements over three decades as President and Executive member during the 2000s and full-time Conservation Director from 1983-89. For the past 20 years he has run West Coast and Canterbury nature tourism businesses including a high-country farm where he and his wife Anne Saunders presently live and are combining a working farm, a nature reserve and a nature tourism operation. As a member of the government’s Nature Heritage Fund since 1990, he and other committee members have helped protect more than 300,000 hectares of our rarest and most special ecosystems. He spearheaded the creation of Te Wāhipounamu-South West New Zealand World Heritage Area in 1991. He was a leader in the campaign to end state logging of West Coast native forests and with Kevin Smith negotiated the Tasman and New Zealand Forest Accords with the NZ timber industry. Gerry continues to passionately campaign to save native plants and animals by supporting pest control over extensive natural areas using the best available tools including aerial 1080. Click here to go back to Gerry's story.
Former Rangitikei Branch Chair long-time Forest & Bird member, Jim Howard has played an integral role in the establishment of one of our foremost reserves: Bushy Park. A conservationist all his life, Jim has worked hard on issues like the control of Old Mans beard in the Turakina Valley / Taihape area. On his own land he maintains a piece of covenanted bush and further afield he works with the Friends of Mt Stewart group helping restore native vegetation on Mt Stewart in Taihape.
Click here to go back to Jim's story.
Former Forest & Bird president Keith Chapple played a key role in protecting our freshwater rivers and its creatures, such as our critically endangered Blue Duck. For much of his life he lived in the small settlement of Kakahi on the banks of the Wanganui River, a river he helped to return closer to its former glory by helping to reinstate much of the pre- Tongariro Power Scheme flows it used to enjoy. He helped to restore the central North Island tussock-lands from the threat of wild horses and just prior to his death was instrumental in establishing the Central North Island Blue Duck Trust. Click here to go back to Keith's story.
Writer, photographer and publisher Gordon Ell is the author of more than 30 books on NZ’s history and natural history. A former national president of Forest& Bird and member of the NZ Conservation Authority, he has travelled extensively throughout NZ with his camera. Gordon also edited Forest & Bird magazine for several years. Click here to go back to Gordon's story.
John and Pixie Marsh have been walking the trap lines of five Forest & Bird reserves in Rangitikei for 14 years, every six weeks refilling about 150 bait stations. While keeping on top of predators and pests, they've ripped out Old Man's Beard and other weeds, and repaired tracks, fences and signs. The Marshes, who have retired to Marton, became interested in conservation when they farmed near Hunterville. They planted wetlands on their land and advised other farmers on native plants suited to the area and how to get rid of weeds. John led fundraising for the $29,000 cost of aerial spraying of Old Man's Beard in the Upper Turakina Valley in 2002, and helped organise the work, which successfully cleared the weed. John was also spent some time as Treasurer and Chairman of Forest & Bird’s Rangitikei Branch. Click here to go back to John's story.
From 1992 Ann Graeme was the Kiwi Conservation Club’s national leader, and she still writes and edits the children's club magazine, Wild Things. She started with a four-page publication with a circulation of less than 5000 and has nurtured it to a 24-page magazine that comes out five times a year and goes to almost 20,000 children. Before Ann moved to her KCC job, she was a Forest & Bird field officer for the Central North Island – a job she began in 1988 and which she shared with husband Basil. Saving the North Island weka became a particular focus, and Ann campaigned on conservation issues including Kaimai forest destruction and Tauranga coastal issues. Ann’s In the Field articles in the Forest & Bird magazine have for more than a decade been illuminating the intricacies of nature. Click here to go back to Ann's story.
Les was a Distinguished Life Member for Forest & Bird and a long time member of the Southland Branch. He helped eradicate rats from the Solomon Islands, successfully campaigned was for the Kepler Track (Fiordland National Park) and was active in the Save Manapouri Campaign. He passed away in 2006. Click here to go back to Les's story.
Former Chairperson of the Rangitikei branch and passionate conservationist in the Rangitikei area.
Click here to go back to Alan's story.
If you can add to these biographies I would be very happy to hear from you, please email me at this link. Regards, Phil Bilbrough.