Animal Conservation

Te Anau conservationist feels lucky to focus on environmental restoration

Mark Sutton has been involved in conservation for over 45 years and is now recognized for his efforts.

Provided

Mark Sutton has been involved in conservation for over 45 years and is now recognized for his efforts.

Early in his conservation career, Mark Sutton couldn’t believe how lucky he was to have the opportunity to work every day to improve fish and wildlife habitats.

That was in 1977, and he still believes in the importance of this type of conservation work continuing.

“If we want healthy rivers, lakes and streams, we need diverse landscapes. This includes wetland habitats for all species of fish and wildlife to thrive.

His work on environmental repair has aligned Sutton to become a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to conservation in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

READ MORE:
* Pheasant in flight chosen for habitat stamp
* Art is re-created in Bill Sutton’s former home
* Farmer Blocks Anglers’ Access Due To Fish & Game

Sutton, from Te Anau, started with Southland Fish & Game in 1977. In the mid-1990s he was hired by the Waiau Fisheries & Wildlife Trust and then a few years later by the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust.

“Since then, I’ve had the good fortune to focus exclusively on habitat development and environmental restoration and protection.”

Sutton is currently a contract field officer for the Waiau Fisheries and Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Trust and has remained a regional representative for the QEII Trust since 2004.

Productive farms are also important for conservation because it is the basis of the economy, he said.

“It means working with, not against, landowners to get the most out of the land. It means taking people on the “conservation journey” with you and seeing them derive pleasure from their own actions and decisions.

Landcorp's Dale Farm manager Ian Matthews with QEII Trust Waiau representative Mark Sutton in 2015.

Douglas Thorne/Supplied

Landcorp’s Dale Farm manager Ian Matthews with QEII Trust Waiau representative Mark Sutton in 2015.

Sutton admits conservation can sometimes be a lonely journey as much of his work has taken place in western Southland, with plenty of time away from home.

However, he has the support of his wife Amy and children Hollie and Steven, as well as extended family members.

“Creating trusted friendships with many landowners and land managers along the way has been fantastic. Being part of a small support team is essential to any success, but it’s also important to be upfront about not always getting it right. »

Sutton has been a board member of the New Zealand Game Bird Habitat Trust since 2015 and the Mid Dome Wilding Trees Charitable Trust from 2010 to 2016.

He has worked alongside landowners and farm managers to enable them to increase biodiversity on their properties, improve land management, water quality and public access to waterways. water.

Sutton’s approach focuses on creating and enhancing habitat to improve wildlife outcomes and land management to improve water quality.

He has worked on various projects including Waimatuku since 1992, Rakatu since 2000 and the Waiau Mouth White Bait Ponds.

He was instrumental in using no-till technology to plant native forests on a large scale.

Sutton’s work has helped connect patches of protected land in an emerging mountain-to-sea continuum of protected waterways under the QEII and Waiau trusts.