Conservation “hero” receives top honours

“Conservation hero” Carole Long has been named a Distinguished Life Member of New Zealand’s largest conservation organisation, Forest & Bird.

The award is Forest & Bird’s highest honour that recognises outstanding individuals who have made a significant contribution to protecting and preserving New Zealand’s special natural places and wildlife.

Carole Long has been an ardent conservationist for most of her 71 years. Inheriting her father’s “conservation ethic” at an early age, she went on to work for the Wildlife Service and the Department of Conservation, and for the last 34 years has been an indefatigable member of Forest & Bird.

Carole Long has been involved in some of the country’s most prominent conservation battles, including the Save Manapouri campaign in the 1970s and the establishment of Whirinaki Forest Park in 1984.

She also remembers marching down Wellington’s Lambton Quay dressed as a tree with esteemed British environmental campaigner David Bellamy.

Her contribution to Forest & Bird has been felt across all levels. She has volunteered on the organisation’s national executive, council and on her local branch committee, as well as being instrumental in the establishment of the Te Puke branch.

Carole Long is better known in her Bay of Plenty home ground fronting numerous branch-driven campaigns. For many years she has been lobbying local councillors, speaking at hearings and organising branch planting and weeding days. She is a founding member and active supporter of the Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust, assisted the Makutu Ongatoro Wetland Group and is currently involved in efforts to protect Papamoa’s main sand dunes.

Carole Long joined Forest & Bird to enjoy the branch’s regular nature outings. However, she became inspired by local conservation stalwart the late Reg Janes to take a more active role.

“Once you take an interest in the environment, you realise you can’t just enjoy it, you have to work to look after it so it’s there for the next generation,” Carole Long says.

“Forest & Bird is good facilitator. We stir people on and make them realise what needs to be done. Like protecting New Zealand dotterel on our coast. Forest & Bird worked with DOC and the local community to raise awareness of these endangered shorebirds on Matakana Island and at Maketu. DOC then produced a video to help us spread the message and now the community has taken over,” she says.

Forest & Bird President Andrew Cutler says Carole Long is one of “the unsung heroes of conservation” who has worked “long and hard” at all levels of Forest & Bird. 

She joins other acclaimed New Zealand conservationists such as ecologist Sir Alan Mark and MP Eugenie Sage as Forest & Bird Distinguished Life Members.