Lou Sanson is the Director-General of the Department of Conservation.

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Lou Sanson.
Lou Sanson

Lou Sanson has been Director-General of the Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai since September 2013.

In this time, Lou has focused on our Treaty partner relationships, culminating with the launch of Te Kaupapa a Te Papa Atawhai this year, which places Treaty partnership at the heart of the Department’s mahi. He has also made health, safety and wellbeing a priority, and new systems have been embedded throughout the Department.

Under Lou’s leadership, DOC has focused strongly on growing conservation by working in partnership with Treaty partners and collaborating with others.

DOC is working on large-scale restoration and predator control projects and undertaking research with Te Arawa, Ngāti Awa and organisations such as Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP), NEXT Foundation, large-scale restoration/predator control initiatives, businesses, other iwi and community organisations on Predator Free 2050, which was launched in 2016. Lou considers that Predator Free 2050 is not ambitious – it is achievable.

A highlight for Lou has been the new era of co-management of Te Urewera, under the ground-breaking Te Urewera Act 2014.

In an earlier role, Lou was the Conservator for the former Southland Conservancy where he led the establishment of Rakiura National Park, listing of the New Zealand subatarctic Islands as a World Heritage Area, oversaw one of the world’s largest island eradication projects and helped establish a network of marine reserves in Fiordland and Stewart Island/Rakiura.

Before becoming Director-General, Lou was Chief Executive of Antarctica New Zealand for 11 years, responsible for developing, managing and executing New Zealand’s activities in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

Lou is a keen outdoor person, enjoying natural history, hiking, ski-touring, diving and photography.

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