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Young Conservationists Receive Award

Wellington’s Tawa Intermediate pupils Joshua Powell and Matt Treeby have been awarded the Department of Conservation’s 1999 Young Conservationist of the Year Award, with their leading entry in this year’s group award category.

The 12-year old students won the award for building stoat traps, which have been set in the hills overlooking Eastbourne, as part of widespread efforts by the local community to restore the health of the once bird-filled forest reserve.

“Our native birds have taken a terrific hammering from introduced animals like possums and stoats, and this sort of initiative is helping to turn things around and raise awareness,” said DOC events co-ordinator, Pam Crisp.

“It’s interesting that the boys chose stoats as their subject, as it is the first time in the 20 years the awards have been running that stoats have featured in students’ projects. I think this shows that the message is really starting to get out there, and that people want to help.”

“Schools can play a very important part in looking after the environment, and it’s great to see teachers using conservation themes to develop these sorts of practical skills among their students.”

As part of their prize Joshua and Matt receive the inscribed Tearaway Conservation Shield, books from Hodder Moa Beckett and native plants from the Taupo Plant Nursery. They will also visit Kapiti Island, with DOC staff, to see first hand the results of long term pest and predator control.

This year’s individual award winner is 15-year old Gillian Wadams from Epsom Girls' Grammar, who is doing her best to protect the bush on a piece of private land on Auckland’s east coast.

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Runners-up in the group award were Christchurch’s Cathedral College, who are actively involved in ecological restoration on Quail Island and the Port Hills. Runner-up in the individual awards was 14-year old Alana Fluit of Napier, for an in-depth study of Hawke’s Bay’s Te Angiangi Marine Reserve.

Award winners will be presented with prizes and certificates, and all entrants will receive certificates acknowledging their contribution.

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