Saturday, July 20, 2024

2023 Loder Cup winner named

Environmental consultant, Mike Harding, has been awarded the prestigious conservation award, the Loder Cup, by Conservation Minister, Willow-Jean Prime, at a ceremony in Christchurch.

The Minister said the award recognises Mr Harding’s outstanding contributions to native plant conservation from his decades of work protecting the South Island’s native flora.

His career in plant conservation spans more than 30 years and has been highly successful across a range of sectors both on the ground and at the policy level, she said.

Following stints at the Department of Conservation and Forest and Bird in the late 80s and early 90s, Mr Harding set up as an independent environmental consultant in 1993.

“Mike’s expertise, courage, professionalism, strategic thinking, dedication and ability to work with a wide range of people shone through in his nomination, which included nine letters of support. He has also put in countless hours of unpaid work to benefit New Zealand’s indigenous flora and is well deserving of the Loder Cup,” said Minister Prime.

Mr Harding was nominated for the Loder Cup by Forest and Bird, with supporting letters from nine parties including representatives from the Christchurch City and Tasman District councils, environmental consultants, and the forestry industry.

“Of note is Mike’s extensive survey work to identify Significant Natural Areas for several councils, including more than 770 sites across more than 200 properties in the Timaru district and 138 sites in the Waitaki district, as well as sites in the Mackenzie Basin.”

“Through this, Mike has shown an outstanding ability to work with private landowners to help them understand the special areas of habitat they have on their properties and build their support to protect them.”

Minister Prime says Mr Harding had led efforts to study and protect the beautiful “at risk” yellow alpine buttercup in Arthur’s Pass.

“His work determined the northern geographical limit of the species in the Hawdon River East Branch and identified the impacts of uncontrolled browsers on this vulnerable species,” she said.

“Mike continues to monitor and advocate for the buttercup and other high country plant species throughout the Waimakariri Basin and elsewhere in the high country.”

She said he had also made a significant difference in plant ecology by providing advice such as management plans, ecological assessments, protection strategies, weed assessment and control planning, Environment Court appearances and ecological assessments for tenure review.

“Mike has made a tangible difference to South Island plant conservation, and he is a worthy recipient of this year’s award. I want to congratulate him on his impressive career to date and look forward to seeing his work in the future.”

The Loder Cup aims to encourage and honour New Zealanders who work to investigate, promote, retain, and cherish our indigenous flora.

Donated in 1926 by Gerald Loder, an avid plant collector and enthusiast, the Cup embodies a passion for our indigenous flora and celebrates those who are committed to such a passion.

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