Lou Sanson

Former Director-General of Department of Conservation and CE Antarctica NZ

Lewis Sanson ONZM, QSO, is the former director of the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

Sanson began his career at the Forest Service in 1971, as a track cutter in the Copland Valley, now Westland Tai Poutini National Park. He then completed a Bachelor of Forestry degree at the University of Canterbury. For two years, he was an environmental forester in the Forest Research Institute, followed by work in pest control and forest surveying, eventually becoming District Forester in Southland for 22 years. After the Department of Conservation was formed in 1987, he took up the position of Southland Conservator.

Sanson made the first of around 50 trips to Antarctica in 1981, spending five months working as a field assistant. From 2002 to 2013, Sanson was based in Christchurch as the chief executive of Antarctica New Zealand. He assisted with the formation of the McMurdo Dry Valleys Protected Area and the Ross Sea Region Marine Protected Area in 2007, took Sir Edmund Hillary on his last visit to Antarctica and helped set up the New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute in 2012. In November 2013, he was appointed chief executive and director-general of conservation for DOC. After two three-year terms and an extension of two years, he retired in September 2021. Sanson planned to volunteer for Predator Free 2050 and the Backcountry Trust.

In the 2015 New Year Honours, Sanson was awarded the New Zealand Antarctic Medal for his services to Antarctic science and conservation. In the 2022 New Year Honours, he was appointed a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for services to conservation and public service.

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