Biologist Dr. Hugh Wilson spent over 30 years since 1987 reforesting the Hinewai Reserve on New Zealand’s South Island. His story was featured in a 30-minute HappenFilms documentary in 2019.
When Dr. Wilson first revealed his plans to turn farmland into a native forest, the New Zealand’s Banks Peninsula local community was straight-up pessimistic and cross. They said that his plan was the kind to be anticipated from “fools and dreamers”. Despite the negative remarks, Dr. Wilson didn’t give up, and his continuous and unfaltering efforts have now made him a national hero.
He was indeed a dreamer, but not a fool. This wise man confidently put his plan into action and made his dream a reality. Native flora and fauna are now reflourishing in the 1500 hectares of Hinewai reserve. What’s more, there are 47 known striking waterfalls in permanent flow.
#1 Gorse (Yellow) Canopy
Wilson had always wanted to buy some land and let nature grow itself. However, he’s never had the money. It was in 1986 that he met Christchurch businessman Maurice White. White had been collecting a trust fund to buy and conserve land on the Banks peninsula since 1977. The Maurice White Trust bought 109 hectares in 1987 and Wilson began his conservation methods.
Gorse, an exotic weed local farmers battled with, proved an effective nursery crop to Wilson. This generated bitterness between him and the locals but he still continued with his plan. The yellow Gorse would provide a protective shield till the juvenile native trees grow and die off when the native trees overgrow them.
His methods had many barriers until after 10 years when the results finally started popping up. The native bush, the birds, bugs, lizards, and fish all came back.
Subsequently, the reserve was brought to its current size by the addition of the neighboring Otanerito Station, and other smaller additions.
#7 He Travels By Foot Or Bicycle Whenever He Can
Watch the Full Documentary On Wilson’s story by HappenFilms Here