Date: 24 May 2012
Carey Knox with jewelled gecko
Department of Conservation (DOC) Coastal Otago Ranger Carey Knox has been recognised by the international Parks Forum and selected as the winner of the inaugural Don Merton Conservation Pioneer Award for his groundbreaking project on New Zealand’s rare and endangered jewelled geckos.
Celebrating conservation leadership among young people, the award aims to reward and stimulate further innovation in conservation management – including endangered species or ecosystems.
On hand to receive his award at the Parks Forum Conference in Adelaide last night, Carey undertook an intense field programme of study for his project – the findings of which have altered the way the species is now managed in the wild.
An example is Carey’s discovery that – contrary to earlier preconceptions – sheep-grazing limits Otago Peninsula rodent populations, reducing predation pressure on jewelled geckos. As stock also damage the plants that provide the geckos’ habitat, these findings must be carefully applied to each situation to ensure long-term persistence of the habitat.
Carey also adopted and adapted an innovative photo-identification method for jewelled geckos. These photographs have allowed for long-term monitoring of individuals and populations, and have assisted law enforcement and conservation agencies to prosecute poachers and return stolen geckos to the wild.
DOC’s West Coast Conservancy was also acknowledged by the Parks Forum, receiving a commendation for this year’s ‘Excellence in Parks Award – Cultural’.
The Conservancy was commended for its work in the Denniston Heritage Area, with the judges noting the project’s innovation and technical excellence – as well as the extensive work into developing multiple information, interpretation and education opportunities. The project was found to be inspirational in terms of engaging the visitor in a tourism product that can meet local, regional and national objectives.
- The Parks Forum is the peak body for park management organisations with members across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and US. Its vision is for a strong and vibrant parks industry recognised and supported by the whole community.
- The Parks Industry Awards Scheme is part of Parks Forum's programme to promote best practice and innovation, and to raise the profile of the parks industry. The awards celebrate the dedication and excellence of individuals, project teams and organisations in managing parks and communicating their extensive environmental, social, cultural and economic values.
- Developed by DOC – working with the Minister of Conservation’s office and the Australasian Parks Forum – the Don Merton Conservation Pioneer Award honours noted New Zealand conservationist Don Merton and offers a way for his passion and tenacity to be taken up by a new generation of conservationists.
- The Don Merton Conservation Pioneer Award celebrates conservation leadership among young people. It aims to reward and stimulate further innovation in conservation management, including endangered species or ecosystems.
- The four ‘Excellence in Parks’ awards recognise excellence and best practice in operational programmes, as evidenced by improved outcomes in the park/parks in which they are implemented.
- The ‘Cultural’ category of the ‘Excellence in Parks’ awards is based on the use of interpretation, information and education programmes to promote cultural history to the visitor and engage them with changes in built, natural and/or human landscape.