Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand
The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc. (Forest & Bird) is an environmental organisation specialising in conservation
Conservation biology
Conservation biology is the scientific study of the nature and status of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction...

 of indigenous plant and animal life in and around New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

  • The Society comprises over 50 active branches located in urban and rural centres throughout New Zealand.
  • Branches are actively engaged in conservation projects and advocacy on a community and regional basis.
  • Society offices and staff are located in Auckland
    The Auckland metropolitan area , in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest and most populous urban area in the country with residents, percent of the country's population. Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world...

    , Christchurch
    Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the country's second-largest urban area after Auckland. It lies one third of the way down the South Island's east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula which itself, since 2006, lies within the formal limits of...

     and Wellington
    Wellington is the capital city and third most populous urban area of New Zealand, although it is likely to have surpassed Christchurch due to the exodus following the Canterbury Earthquake. It is at the southwestern tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range...

  • The society publishes a quarterly journal Forest & Bird, one of New Zealand's definitive natural history journals.

The society is also well-known for being a great authority on Resource Management Law, and produces a respected commentary book on the law. They are also actively engaged in lobbying for resource management law and practices to more consistently protect the ecosystem.


The society was founded in 1923, it is the largest and longest running environmental group in New Zealand.


As is often the case, large scale movements are frequently initiated by the relentless efforts of one or two people who feel driven to change what they perceive as wrong, such was the beginning of the Royal Forest and Bird Society.
Before World War One, Wellingtonian, Ernest Valentine Sanderson had been one of a number of people who had been vocal about the damage done to Kapiti Island by the introduction of grazing animals that were not kept in check by fences despite an area of the island being designated a wildlife reserve.
After returning from the First World War, Captain Val Sanderson revisited Kapiti Island in 1921 and was angered both that the reserve was still unfenced and at the extent of damage that had been caused by the cattle, sheep and goats that had been introduced there. Once the habitat of a wide range of native flora and fauna, the introduced animals had grazed and trampled the island, denuding it of larger plants and scrub, and depriving the native animals of cover and food.
Sanderson began a campaign to restore Kapiti Island to its original state and succeeded in having it re-declared a Wildlife Reserve.
Encouraged by this success and with the support of Sir Thomas Mackenzie, a one-time explorer and New Zealand statesman, Sanderson sought wider support and at a public meeting in March 1923; the Native Bird Protection Society came into being with Mackenzie as Society President. Though Mackenzie was at the helm, Sanderson was still very much the driving force in the background.
A forestry conservation group already existed in the form of The New Zealand Forestry League but did not have a strong following and it gradually died out which gave Mackenzie and Sanderson the opportunity to widen the societies sphere of influence and in 1935 it became the Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand.
Sanderson drove an expansion of the society’s range of interests, including such areas as soil erosion and use of native trees for soil stabilisation; he also took over the president’s position in 1933 which he held until his death in 1945 aged 79.


  • 1970s - Lake Manapouri
    Save Manapouri Campaign
    The Save Manapouri Campaign was an environmental campaign waged between 1959 and 1972 in New Zealand to prevent the raising of the levels of lakes Manapouri and Te Anau as part of the construction of the Manapouri Power Project....

  • 1980s - Native forest conservation
  • 1990s - Native forest conservation
  • 2006 - Petition to increase protection of the New Zealand Sea Lion
    New Zealand Sea Lion
    The New Zealand Sea Lion also known as Hooker's Sea Lion or Whakahao in Māori is a species of sea lion that breeds around the coast of New Zealand's South Island and Stewart Island/Rakiura to some extent, and to a greater extent around the New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands, especially the Auckland...

  • 2008 - Preventing the damming of the Mokihinui River
    Mokihinui River
    The Mokihinui River is a river located on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island, about 40 kilometres north of Westport.- Geography :The Mokihinui River's headwaters are located in the Glasgow Range and its mouth is on the Tasman Sea...

  • Living Rivers
  • South Island High Country
  • Dawn Chorus (Terrestrial Biodiversity)
  • Marine Conservation
  • 2009 - 2010 Preventing large-scale irrigation schemes in the Mackenzie Basin
    Mackenzie Basin
    The Mackenzie Basin , is an elliptical intermontane basin, located in the Mackenzie and Waitaki Districts, near the centre of the South Island of New Zealand. It is the largest such basin in New Zealand...

  • 2009-Ongoing A campaign to save NZ's conservation areas from being mined.
  • 2009-Ongoing A campaign to save NZ's iconic rivers from being dammed.


The society has the following aims:
  • To take all reasonable steps within the power of the Society for the preservation and protection of the indigenous flora
    Flora is the plant life occurring in a particular region or time, generally the naturally occurring or indigenous—native plant life. The corresponding term for animals is fauna.-Etymology:...

     and fauna
    Fauna or faunæ is all of the animal life of any particular region or time. The corresponding term for plants is flora.Zoologists and paleontologists use fauna to refer to a typical collection of animals found in a specific time or place, e.g. the "Sonoran Desert fauna" or the "Burgess shale fauna"...

     and natural features of New Zealand, for the benefit of the public including future generations.
  • Without affecting the generality of the main objects, the Society shall have the following ancillary objects:
    • To spread knowledge and encourage appreciation of our native flora and fauna, their aesthetic, scientific, cultural and recreational values.
    • To educate the public of all age groups regarding the importance and urgent need for protection of these natural resources.
    • To meet the vital need to conserve the environment free from pollution.
    • To advocate the protection of indigenous species, their habitats and ecosystems.
    • To advocate the creation and the preservation of protected natural areas, reserves and National Parks in public ownership and/or control.
    • To establish and administer reserves and sanctuaries for the preservation of New Zealand's indigenous ecosystems.
    • To advocate the destruction of introduced species harmful to New Zealand's flora and fauna.


Perceptions on Forest & Bird are varied. While the group is one of the most well-known mainstream environmental groups of the country, it has also come under criticism, such as in 2010 when Prime Minister John Key accused them of engaging in "predictable scaremongering" when the group warned that a yet unreleased government report supported mining in three conservation areas.


  • Harris, Rob (ed.) (2004). Handbook of Environmental Law (1st ed.). Wellington: Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc., ISBN 0959785183. The work has been described as "a comprehensive guide to New Zealand’s environmental law".

External links

  • Forest & Bird
  • Forest & Bird at Facebook
    Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

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