90th Anniversary Celebrations

09 Jul 2013

Forest & Bird celebrated its 90th anniversary with a dinner in Wellington in late June.

At the dinner, attendees were given the chance to pore over some vintage Forest & Bird memorabilia.

At the dinner, attendees were given the chance to pore over some vintage Forest & Bird memorabilia.

A host of awards were presented during the evening, to some of Forest & Bird’s outstanding members.

Carole Long was made a distinguished life member, Grant Vincent won a Pestbuster award, and Ian Price won a Golden Spade Award. Six people received Old Blue Awards; George Mason, Rosalie Snoyink, Arthur Hinds, Rod Morris, Susan Miller, and Hermann Frank.  

The focus of the later part of the evening was on the Sanderson Memorial Address, presented this year by Conservation Ambassador and former Forest & Bird President Dr Gerry McSweeney. His chosen topic was one of the key issues facing New Zealand – pest control.

Gerry was resolute in his speech that the Department of Conservation’s pest control efforts are seriously lacking. We were “abandoning our conservation estate” to pests and the most sensible, cost-effective way to control pests was with 1080, he said.

“Much of the present spend [on pest control] is not particularly efficient or effective. Large areas of conservation land at present receive little or no effective pest control”.

He estimates that applying aerial 1080 across all 6.6 million hectares of DOC-managed forest, on a three-year cycle, would cost $40 million a year.

He said DOC could afford this, if it used its current pest control budget more efficiently, by cutting back on its less effective and very expensive ground-based trapping and baiting operations.

Gerry also said that there were potential savings to be made by reviewing the funding of what he referred to as DOC’s “gold-plated Tier One Ecosystem monitoring programme”.  He said that pest control operations on conservation land could also be “topped up” from the Animal Health Board’s annual spending on TB-Free programmes.

He said Forest & Bird needed to keep fighting or we would lose those forests that we battled so hard to save from logging in the 1970s and 80s. He envisioned Forest & Bird taking a greater advocacy role to control pests on public conservation land while at a local level “citizen groups should do biodiversity work that complements rather than replaces DOC’s core pest work”.

The full text of Gerry’s speech can be found here.