Kelly’s Conservation Forest – the seen and unseen

Nestled in the hills of Nelson’s Enner Glynn is a thriving embodiment of the practice of kaitiakitanga: the protection and stewardship of the natural environment.

For almost 40 years, Lindy Kelly and her now late husband Joe, have perfected their kaitiakitanga over an area of native bush now known as Kelly’s Conservation Forest. It is one of the few remaining areas of bush that dates from pre-European times and lies within a city’s boundaries. Tasman Environment Trust are proud to partner with Kelly’s Conservation Forest, and walk beside them in their journey of guardianship.

“When future generations ask, ‘how well did you look after your environment?’, we can answer the question with pride.’”


A special place worth preserving

When Joe and Lindy purchased the farm from the Burrough family, they knew they had an obligation to continue to preserve this special place. Supported by community volunteers, the family have been growing native trees onsite and engaging in regular plantings, slowly growing the area to seven times its original size.   

A network of trails, bridges and steps, make the forest accessible to the over 2000 visitors that come each year for open days, plantings and educational encounters. The many picnic areas dotted around the forest, enhance their enjoyment. 

Children involved in plantings from over 20 years ago, are now bringing their own youngsters to visit the forest, making the area something of an intergenerational institution.

The slow growth of the right kind of progress

Jewel in the crown of NZ conservation efforts

The award-winning project’s success is a testament to the dedication of volunteers, the power of community and the vision of its founders. ‘It’s been a team effort,’ says Lindy, who recognises that alone, the family could not have made the huge conservation gains without volunteer power.  

Support has also come from over 700 funders, including well-known organisations such as Honda New Zealand, Z Energy, and Colgate-Palmolive, as well as numerous individuals, through Project Crimson’s Trees That Count initiative.

‘We’ve been getting 5000 trees a year for the past 5 years from Trees that Count. Together with the trees we grow ourselves (600-1000), this is enabling us to put 2.5-3ha more in every year.’

Lindy Kelly

The funding received through Trees That Count who describe the project as ‘the jewel in the crown of New Zealand conservation efforts,’ has been instrumental in boosting their reforestation efforts. Prior to this support, their planting power was limited, and the process was slow and arduous.

A hidden world of natural taonga

The forest is not only an important part of the Nelson landscape, it has also been designated a Significant Natural Area and is protected in perpetuity by a Department of Conservation covenant.  It’s a place that provides a refuge to an array of natural treasures, the seen and the unseen. The audible and inaudible, tangible and intangible.

Competing and coalescing elements, often interact beyond the range of human perception, creating a delicate balance that supports the overall ecosystem. The seen, includes trees and plants such as huge Matai, Swamp Maire, Tawa, Kohekohe and Pukatea to name a few.

The audible could be the song of the Tui, or the “whoosh” of a flying Kereru. And then there’s the unseen – secretive, and elusive, Powelliphanta (giant snails), giant earthworms, giant wetas, and geckos all live, beyond our gaze in the canopy understory. The hundreds and thousands of unseen hours that volunteers have put in over the past 35 years have made Kelly’s Conservation Forest the taonga that the region embraces today.

After the floods

Unfortunately, Kelly’s Conservation Forest experienced significant damage during last year’s flooding event, resulting in extensive destruction of their winding network of tracks, which are crucial in facilitating the visits of hundreds of school children every year.

Consequently, we are appealing for your assistance in restoring the damaged tracks to their former state, allowing visitors to enjoy the forest once again. If you own a contracting business, or even possess a small digger and are willing to help, please do not hesitate to contact us. Alternatively, you might like to join in with Mitre Ten’s Helping Hands team, who are due on site in April (date to be confirmed). No digger needed, just a spade or a grubber! Either way, we would be delighted to hear from you!

Kelly’s Conservation Forest are striving to expand the forest area, which serves as a tribute to the founders, Joe and Lindy Kelly, and their commitment to conservation. Lindy’s passion is bolstered by the reaction she gets to the forest.

A lush and verdant home, to the seen and the unseen

 ‘My greatest reward is seeing other people enjoy it and feel uplifted by the experience’

Lindy Kelly

The Tasman Environmental Trust acknowledges their dedicated efforts, and  aspires to join forces with them in pursuing this shared goal.

Share this post

Related articles