Queen’s Birthday Honours: Northland’s Ian Wilson receives QSM for service to conservation

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Then Conservation Minister Maggie Barry with funding for Russell Forest Pest Control with Ian Wilson of the Puketi Forest Trust. Wilson received a QSM in the Queen’s birthday honours.

Ian Wilson
Queen’s Service Medal for Services to Conservation

Typically, while Ian Wilson was talking about receiving a Queen’s Service Medal for his services to conservation, he was already diverting the praise to others – and urging everyone to do their part to save the environment.

Wilson, who was a founding member and operational director of Puketi Forest Trust on a voluntary basis since 2003 and his work to preserve and improve the 5,500 hectares of forest, is among his proudest accomplishments.

The forest of Puketi, west of Kerikeri, had been invaded by harmful species. Wilson organizes contract and volunteer trappers to maintain more than 6,000 traps each month with non-toxic lure.

He has kept meticulous records of predators captured, with over 100,000 pests eliminated to date, and has ensured that funds are used effectively to support the Trust’s activities.

The Trust’s activities have resulted in the successful reintroduction of the kōkako and toutouwai (North Island robin), and plant species such as the Northern Rata have recovered. The Trust received the Northland Regional Council Enviro Award in 2020.

Wilson placed part of his farm under the QEII convention and opened public access to the Puketi Forest through his property. Wilson was a committee member of the Far North Branch of Forest and Bird for over 30 years until his recent retirement.

But despite his best efforts, Wilson was quick to deflect praise from others, saying his wife June had been particularly supportive and that without her – and her computer skills – he wouldn’t have been able to do much. He also thanked the many volunteers who worked to bring the birdsong back to the Puketi forest.

He said everyone can do their part, no matter how small, to preserve and improve New Zealand’s natural environment. He encouraged people to place their native bush patches under an alliance, like QEII, to ensure they are saved for future generations.

Wilson said anyone can help conservation by thinking about the environment and how they can improve it.

“Get rid of opossums and rats around your home, they are big pests, and get rid of all pest plant species – they are not good for our environment. ”

Wilson said that when he arrived in Northland in the 1980s, the Puketi Forest was full of birdsong, with over 100 established kōkako and many other native birds. But opossums, rats and other predators quickly turned it into a wild forest, with very little birdsong.

Now, thanks to the efforts of Wilson and others, he is alive with native birds again – and this is probably his proudest achievement, bringing the birds back.

”New Zealand is such a special place, with so many unique native species – and hearing all the birdsong again is just amazing. ”

Wilson said his interest in tree conservation began when they purchased the farm from Northland in 1980. He had farmed in Waikato where trees were considered to take up space and should be removed. But a conversation with a botanist, who convinced him of the importance of trees, changed his mind – and he’s been protecting them ever since.


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