Graham Falla awarded Forest & Bird’s Golden Spade

Forest & Bird has awarded Mangere’s Graham Falla its prestigious Golden Spade award for his leading role in four decades of native restoration work in the South Auckland area.

Since 1975, Graham has led programmes which have seen tens of thousands of native plants and trees planted in parks and reserves in South Auckland. Typically, he has planned projects, collected and propagated locally sourced seeds, prepared sites, organised volunteers and taken part in planting days.

The award was presented to Graham at Forest & Bird’s annual conference in Wellington on Saturday night (June 25). The Golden Spade is awarded to Forest & Bird branches or members who have made an outstanding contribution to restoring and maintaining native habitats.

Graham has worked on a number of major revegetation projects since starting with Totara Park in Manurewa in 1975. Others include Forest & Bird’s Olive Davis Reserve in Alfriston, Te Maketu Pa Historic Reserve at Ramarama, Mangemangeroa Valley reserves in Howick, and Pointways Pony Club at Alfriston.

Now aged in his mid-eighties, Graham is a mine of botanical and restoration advice and remains an active force behind ongoing and new restoration projects, says Forest & Bird’s South Auckland branch chairman John Oates.

Graham is modest about his four decades of hard work, saying it is good to be part of the South Auckland branch’s strong commitment to native vegetation restoration. He is particularly pleased that local schools have become involved in recent projects.

His achievements were previously recognised with Forest & Bird’s Old Blue award in 1999.

“It is rewarding to see the results of the work that is done. The one I’m most pleased about is Olive Davis Reserve,” Graham said.

“When it was bequeathed to Forest & Bird at about the same time as the South Auckland branch was formed (in the mid-1970s), it had large areas of run down horse paddock.

“Now it is difficult to tell when you are moving out of the old forest into the new because it has blended together so well.”