Auckland student Connor Wallace wins Forest & Bird youth award

Auckland high school student Connor Wallace has been awarded Forest & Bird’s annual Te Kaiārahi Rangatahi o te Taiao youth award for his leadership role in encouraging other students to join him in conservation projects.

Connor has marked himself out as a future conservation leader through his work organising other young people to take part in restoration projects on the Hauraki Gulf islands Motutapu and Motuihe. He has also started his own pest control project at Lucas Creek Bush near his Albany Senior High School.

Connor received the award at Forest & Bird’s annual conference in Wellington on Saturday night (June 25).

The 17-year-old Year 13 student has always been keen on wildlife and ecology and was a member of Forest & Bird’s group for primary school children, the Kiwi Conservation Club.

“It’s really important to me that there should be as many beautiful natural things for future generations to be passionate about as there are now,” Connor said.

Connor is the leader of his high school’s environment group, has been part of the Auckland Council’s youth sustainability programme, Make a Difference, for two and a half years and was a delegate to the Sir Peter Blake Trust’s Youth Environmental Leaders Forum last year.

He has been volunteering on the project to revegetate Motutapu Island for around three years and started a website (www.enviroyouth.com) to recruit other teenagers to volunteer there and on Motuihe Island.

“When I first started volunteering on Motutapu , I realised there weren’t many volunteers of my age. For the last three years or so, when I volunteer every second Saturday I bring about five or so volunteers with me.”

He has been monitoring predators in a 1.27 ha area of bush near his high school for two years. After receiving funding from the Upper Harbour Local Board, he bought traps to catch predators, including hedgehogs, stoats, ferrets, possums, mice and rats.

Connor says he is very grateful to Albany Senior High School for its support of his work, especially in providing help for setting up the Enviroyouth website and the trapping project.