Meet the Boffa Miskell ecology team: Scott Hooson

In his role at Boffa Miskell, Scott Hooson's natural habitat spans the South Island wetlands, estuaries, lakes, streams, grasslands, shrublands and forests from coastal sites to the alpine zone.

You might find him in a helicopter over high country stations in the Southern Alps, or scuba-diving in Lake Wakatipu; but if you want to catch up with this senior ecologist, our new Christchurch office is the last place you’ll want to look.

Scott specialises in the survey and assessment of ecological values, preparation of ecology reports for Assessment of Effects on the Environment and the assessment of Significant Natural Areas – and he says that this work is a grown-up version of what he did as a boy.

“I spent a lot of my childhood outdoors: sailing, snorkelling, fishing; and catching lizards, frogs and eels. I developed a strong interest in birds (of the feathered kind) at a young age, and that probably ultimately drew me into a career in ecology. I just followed my passion for the natural environment all the way through school and university.”

Currently, Scott is busy mapping and classifying the hydrology and vegetation of a large wetland in Northland, writing a management plan for a wetland south of Christchurch, assessing the significance of an area of forest on the West Coast and just beginning a project assessing the values of braided rivers in Canterbury.

When he’s not out working in the field, Scott says, “I like to be outside! My wife and I have two young boys, so spending time with my family is a priority. I enjoy tramping, mountain biking, diving, hunting and exploring our awesome country.”

In fact, a highly un-scientific office survey found that Scott’s the guy most other Boffa Miskell consultants would want to go tramping with – thanks to his near-encyclopaedic knowledge of New Zealand flora and fauna.

He’s a member of the Ornithological Society of NZ, so we asked him which species gets his vote for Bird of the Year.

He chose the South Island Saddleback.

“It is a charismatic bird with a bold chestnut-coloured saddle across its back, loud vocalisations and distinctive orange-red wattles,” Scott explains. “They were saved from the brink of extinction by the Wildlife Service in 1964, when 36 birds were translocated from rat-infested Big South Cape Island to two small islands nearby.”

Before joining Boffa Miskell ten years ago, Scott worked on threatened species projects and the restoration of key conservation sites.

When it comes to conservation and biosecurity efforts, Scott says, “Some of the greatest changes that have occurred recently have been social changes – how people see and value our environment and the changes in behaviour that happen as a result. As individuals our contributions – be it reducing our use of plastics, backyard trapping or taking part in riparian planting, no matter how big or small – can all make a difference.”

2 August 2018