Named after explorer Abel “Janszoon” Tasman, Project Janszoon was launched in 2012 with the generous support of New Zealand couple Neal and Annette Plowman, who have since established the $100 million philanthropic NEXT Foundation. Project Janszoon is committing millions to make transformational change in the Abel Tasman National Park.
When launched Project Janszoon was unique – it was the first time philanthropists had offered to partner with a government department to restore the ecology of a national park. Since then we have become the blueprint for other landscape scale collaborative conservation projects in Aotearoa.
The trust aims to reverse the trend of ecological decline in the park. We’re working with iwi – Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Rārua and Te Ātiawa, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the community-led Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust to put things right. Together we’re getting rid of pests and weeds, bringing back native birds and bush, and inspiring a culture of care for Abel Tasman.
We’re reaching restoration milestones all the time with an aim of celebrating the transformation of the park by 2042 – in time for the park’s 100th anniversary.
We have signed an agreement with the Government called the Tomorrow Accord. This agreement ensures that once agreed restoration outcomes are achieved, Project Janszoon hands responsibility for maintaining those gains to the Crown. It’s expected the first target, controlling wilding pines, will be achieved in 2021 with DOC then due to take over responsibility for ensuring the wildings don’t come back.
By 2042, on the park’s 100th anniversary, we hope to be celebrating;
During the first years of the project the principle focus is on securing the existing ecological values of the park by establishing control of the key factors contributing to ecological decline – primarily weeds and predators.
By accelerating the natural restoration of the park we can reintroduce lost or threatened birds and restore key ecosystems. These include the planting of key species such as rata and kahikatea, and the reintroduction of birds now missing or in low numbers such as kākā, kākāriki, pāteke, mohua, toutouwai/robin, tuatara and key seabirds.
The project’s work will continue long into the future. Central to the project’s success is nurturing the passion of future generations, to ensure locals and visitors continue to care for the park and its ecology.
Jim’s role is Senior Ranger – Biodiversity. He provides administrative and technical support of field operations, and liaises frequently with the Project Janszoon team. He’s been with DOC for 16 years, in locations as diverse as the central North Island, the Kermadec Islands and South Westland. He studied and worked in forestry and landscape architecture in Scotland, Australia and Switzerland before moving to New Zealand.
Helen is the biodiversity ranger supervisor and joins the team after ten years working for DOC on the West Coast. She grew up in Tasmania where she did a BSC and spent time studying the Tasmanian platypus. Spreading her wings she then worked in the Galapagos and Falkland Islands in a variety of roles including working with King Penguins, environmental planning and as a fisheries observer. A love of tramping and mountain biking brought her to New Zealand – both hobbies she plans to pursue in the Tasman district.
Biodiversity ranger Josh is a member of the trapping and weed team so you’ll often find him walking the Abel Tasman. He is our weeds guru and came to DOC after working with Nelmac. Josh grew up in the Nelson / Tasman region and is a graduate of the NMIT DOC Trainee Ranger programme.
Biodiversity ranger Dan focuses on species and spends a lot of his time tracking the birds we have released in the park. He says he always wanted to work in conservation and did the NMIT DOC Trainee Ranger programme in 2014. Before coming to the Abel Tasman he spent two years in Northland working with kiwi.
Rhan is part of the trapping and weed team. A Tasman local he has lived on both sides of “the hill” growing up in Tapawera before heading to Golden Bay. In his last year at Collingwood Area School he took part in a Gateway programme with DOC and went on to work for DOC in Golden Bay. Working in both Kahurangi and the northern end of the Abel Tasman he mostly did trapping and weed work and helped with snail monitoring. Growing up with a love of nature he says he loves working in the bush and it’s an absolute bonus to be able to help protect our threatened animals and plants as part of this working day.
John leads the team that monitors the many species that are being returned to the Park, including pāteke/brown teal and kākā. You will often find him with an antenna in his hands, searching for birds we have released with transmitters. He’s also involved in the wasp control programmes. John has been with DOC since 2002 and says he gets a real kick out of exploring the Abel Tasman and restoring its birdlife.