Jodi Rees


Senior Biodiversity Officer, Environment Canterbury

Jodi Rees

Jodi Rees

Jodi Rees has a positive vision for the Selwyn-Waihora Catchment. It’s one that includes a self-sustaining network of effective habitats coming together to form a thriving greenbelt.

“We’re already starting to see that and it’s very exciting to see all the streams of work coming together to make a real difference to the landscape. It will take a long time to see real differences around Te Waihora/ Lake Ellesmere but the Whakaora Te Waihora programme is so worthwhile,” she says.

Jodi was born in England and brought up in Australia. She gained her Bachelor of Science (Honours in Botany) in Queensland and came to New Zealand with her Kiwi husband, Josh Harris, in 2007. Prior to taking up her role at Environment Canterbury, she worked for the private sector, consulting in botany and ecology. She continued working for the Brisbane-based consultancy until 2013, working from Christchurch and doing field work in Australia.  She took up her fulltime role as senior biodiversity officer with Environment Canterbury in August 2013.

In addition to her work with Whakaora Te Waihora – weed and willow control and planting programmes –  a lot of the work Jodi is involved in is based on the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS), delivering the Selwyn-Waihora Zone Implementation Programme. She also works within the Immediate Steps programme, the Canterbury Biodiversity Strategy Fund and the Honda Tree Fund.

“We strong on building relationships with landowners around the lake, especially to gain access to control female grey willows. The planting sites around the lake build on a network of existing good work by Ngāi Tahu, the Department of Conservation and other landowners, and they are an important part of the puzzle,” she says.

“Fifty per cent of my time is spent on field work and I often work with landowners interested in planting on their land, or protecting areas of high biodiversity value. I visit them and work through a range of suggestions for their property and which funding stream they should apply to.”

Jodi says she has come to appreciate the long term vision for Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere and the plan to return it to a healthy state.

“I really like the fact that Environment Canterbury has funding to help people with these projects. It seems very progressive to me and I’m really enjoying learning about the lake and the people. I’m sure good things are also happening in Australia, but it seems much more visible here,” Jodi says.

When they are not working, Josh and Jodi are keen long-distance cyclists. They spent two months cycling around Japan for their honeymoon in 2007; and in 2004 they started a one-year cycle tour of South America. Now, with their two sons, Jarrah, 5 and Merrin, 2, they are about to spend two weeks cycling around Ireland.