Conservation Leaders Gather in Nelson

Two people sit at the edge of a wide body of water with mountains in the distance, enjoying the scenic views in Nelson, South Island.
OUt in nature Enjoying the scenic views in Nelson, South Island. © Te Pania, Unsplash

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Nelson is hosting an important training event for New Zealand conservation leaders, who are gathering in the city to learn how to tackle large, complex and urgent environmental challenges.

Thirty-two people are meeting this week (21-23 May) for the in-person part of the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation (Conservation Standards) training, organised by The Nature Conservancy Aotearoa New Zealand (TNC NZ).

TNC NZ spokesperson Haojin Tan says New Zealand has a proud history of conservation achievements, including bringing several species back from the brink of extinction. She says the country is full of passionate individuals and dedicated community groups keen to make a difference, often within their immediate natural environment.

‘To accelerate this impact, The Nature Conservancy is working with individuals and organisations to give them additional skills and expertise to work on large-scale and complex conservation initiatives.’


The Conservation Standards training has been game-changing for achieving our vision.

Tan says people running critical conservation and sustainable development projects often rely on their own skills and resources.

‘This is an offering to help projects be more rigorous about how they develop holistic, impactful strategies and actions and to improve best practices on how they measure and communicate impacts resulting from the projects.’

Participants are coming from as far afield as the Chatham Islands and Gisborne, but there’s strong representation from the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance (KMTT), which is working on large-scale restoration projects across the top of the South Island. The alliance of 17 iwi, council and government partners supports landscape-scale programmes to help restore our landscapes, catchments, native plants and animals, and rebuild community connections to the natural world.

A large group of people stand together for a group photo in a grassy field with a forest behind them.
Conservation leaders Conservation Standards trainings provide leaders additional qualifications to enhance their conservation impact. © Roger Kingi

KMTT Programme Manager Debs Martin says attending a previous Conservation Standards training enabled her to bring KMTT partners along to develop the implementation pathway plan that will help deliver on KMTT’s strategy—a visionary document for the restoration of the region’s ecosystems. The Restoration by Design process that they used drew on Conservation Standards, resulting in a strong, integrated implementation plan supported by all partners.

‘The Conservation Standards training has been game-changing for achieving our vision.’

The Kawatiri Nature Environment & Communities Trust working in the Buller Kawatiri region says the training helped the group make sure they were working on the right priorities.

‘Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. If we want to start a restoration project, the training helps us test our assumptions’, says Deputy Chair Di Rossiter.

Tan says nearly 60 New Zealand conservation leaders and practitioners have completed Conservation Standards training led and supported by TNC NZ.


Learn More

Learn more about TNC NZ's Conservation Leaders training.

For more information:

Contact Catherine Jeffcoat, 021 870 440,

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. The Nature Conservancy is working to make a lasting difference around the world in 77 countries and territories (41 by direct conservation impact and 36 through partners) through a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on X.