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    Standing on a sandbank, a group of teenagers gaze carefully at their surroundings on a summer’s day.
    These new generations are joining forces with the many people who have been involved over the last few decades. Ultimately, they all share the same goal: to give nature a second chance, and ensure that residents and visitors will always care for the park and its ecosystem.

    The Young Protectors of Abel Tasman National Park

    Project Janszoon’s mission is to restore and preserve the treasures of Abel Tasman National Park. With the support of partners, this team is aiming to restore the park’s flora and wildlife in time for its 100th anniversary in 2042. By accelerating the park’s natural restoration, they can reintroduce extinct species, stabilize those on the brink of extinction, and strive for ecosystem recovery.

    On site, I had the opportunity to spend a full day with several of these young people in this gorgeous park. “I think it’s important for me to be involved as a representative of my community. Abel Tasman National Park and its environment add great cultural value to the region,” explained Saskia, a young Māori ambassador.

    Melon, meanwhile, had noticed changes in the park since his involvement. “There were no birds before, but they’ve gradually come back. It’s even become difficult to sleep because the birds are singing from 5 a.m. in the morning”, concludes this smiling young man. Throughout this inspiring day, I witnessed their great environmental awareness. And what better place than New Zealand to nurture this reflex and sensitivity? After all, these young people are the future protectors and guardians of New Zealand’s wealth.

    Read more: Project Janszoon Website

    In a field with tall grasses, teenagers and adults form a large circle and talk together.
    Project Janszoon brings together the Department of Conservation (DOC), the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust, scientists, tourism companies, and, of course, the indigenous iwi (Māori) communities and volunteers who care about Abel Tasman National Park.

    A dozen brown ducks move along a river near a beach with tall grasses.
    At Hadfield Clearing, New Zealand Brown Teals were reintroduced near a river in 2017. This small dabbling duck is the rarest aquatic bird species in the country.

    Former agricultural field of yellow grass with small shrubs growing here and there.
    From the 19th century the Hadfield family established their sheep farm on this 25-hectare area now administered by the Department of Conservation. Since 2014, tens of thousands of trees have been planted here to regenerate an ancient swamp forest.

    A blond teenager in a white T-shirt smiles at the photographer.
    Launched in 2014, the Youth Ambassador Program creates partnerships with local schools and gets young people like Melon involved in their community as ambassadors for Project Janszoon.

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