Meet our April pest free hero, the final winner of the Mayoral Conservation Awards, Frazer Dale – recipient of the Individual Award category.
If you’re in the pest-free circles you may well have come across Frazer, whether it was while he was volunteering, working, teaching or all of the above!
In his day job, Frazer is an Outreach Conservation Educator at Auckland Zoo and he carries his skills and knowledge into a range of volunteer work. His biggest initiative has been founding and coordinating the Friends of Sunhill Scenic Reserve.
Over the years he’s helped out plenty of other conservation groups including Tiritiri Matangi, Rotoroa Island, Friends of Oakley Creek, Friends of Whatipu, Twin Streams and YELF, the Youth Enviro Leaders Forum for the Sir Peter Blake Trust.
Frazer’s biggest driver behind it all is a passion for inspiring the younger generation about conservation – whether that means taking kids camping in the bush, organising ecology trails or demonstrating rat-trapping.
“All good things take time – they take generations in fact,” Frazer says. “It’s our youth who are going to be doing conservation work in the years ahead.”
“We’re working towards Pest Free Auckland 2050 and by then, the kids we’re teaching now will be my age and leading this work. So, it’s huge for me to be able to support and help them.”
He loves seeing the younger generation discovering a love for the outdoors.
“There’s something so special about children getting so excited seeing a bird or eel for the first time. Kids don’t always have a chance to get out into nature, so being able to take them on their first bush walk or to spot a kiwi is such a privilege.”
Friends of Sunhill Scenic Reserve
The group have been working to clear the Sunhill Scenic Reserve of pest plants and animals (such as pampas, gorse, wattle, rats, stoat and rabbits) and restore native bush. The group and area are part of a wider network, the NorthWest Wild link, providing a green pathway for animals to get across to the Waitakere Ranges from other parts of Auckland.
Frazer’s excited by the potential of the project. “Auckland doesn’t have a big pest-free area within the city,” he says. “They’re mostly on islands offshore – I’d love this area to become a space like that.”
Going forward the group is also looking at other initiatives, such as hosting a Bioblitz Citizen Science event (an intense period of biological surveying in a certain area) at Sunhill in the future.
“It’s been inspiring to see the project grow and we couldn’t have done it without so many people and groups coming together, including Auckland Council (especially Sinead Brimacombe a Community Park Ranger); EcoMatters, an environmental group out West; Treescape who help us with contracting and general maintenance. Most of all, the other Friends of Sunhill Scenic Reserve volunteers have been incredible and do a lot to keep the project running when I’m busy doing my other volunteering or teaching.”
Frazer was nominated for the Mayoral Conservation Award by fellow conservation volunteer and zookeeper Hayley Paul. Find out more about Friends of Sunhill Scenic Reserve here.
You can get involved with Pest Free Auckland 2050 a community-led conservation programme facilitated by Auckland Council or find a conservation group near you at Nature Space.