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New President – Natalie Forsdick

June 10th, 2024

Natalie Forsdick succeeds Bruce McKinlay as the new President of Birds New Zealand.

Natalie Forsdick is the new President of Birds New Zealand. She succeeds Bruce McKinlay after his second three-year term came to an end at the Society’s recent AGM held in Nelson on 2 June. She is the second woman to become President of the Society, following Beth Brown’s term from 1983-88.

She served for three years as Vice President after three years as a member of the Birds New Zealand Council. Natalie was awarded the Best Student Presentation award at the 2017 Birds New Zealand conference in Te Anau for her talk on the conservation genetics of the Chatham Island black robin. In 2017 she received a grant from the Birds New Zealand Research Fund for her research on the evolutionary history of Australasian stilts. More recently, Natalie has applied her research training as an active member of the Birds New Zealand Checklist and Scientific Committees.

She has an MSc (Hons) in Biological Sciences (University of Canterbury, 2016) and aPhD in Genomics (University of Otago2020). She has worked for Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research since 2020 as a conservation genomics researcher. Her research involves studying the DNA of threatened species to understand their evolution and to inform conservation management. Currently she works with a range of species, including birds, insects, and plants. While she can occasionally be found collecting samples in the field, her time is mostly spent extracting DNA in the lab, or analysing genetic data from the office.

Natalie is eager to lead Birds New Zealand in a new phase of activity following efforts to deliver the New Zealand Bird Atlas five-year project tracking the distribution and abundance of our birds. She is dedicated to promoting the society to ensure continued growth, providing opportunities for members to participate in data collection and bird observation projects, and supporting ornithological research. She looks forward to building on existing partnerships, and forming new relationships to deliver on society priorities.

Natalie is a proponent for a supportive research environment in her role as co-lead of the MWLR Early Career Group. She is also Secretary for the Society of Conservation Biology – Oceania, supporting the hosting of the International Congress for Conservation Biology in Brisbane in 2026.

About Birds New Zealand

Established in 1940, Birds New Zealand is committed to the study of birds and their habitat use within New Zealand through encouraging members and organising nationwide research projects and schemes. These activities are organised at the national and regional level, with 19 regions providing a local network for members to engage in bird studies and surveys. Birds New Zealand promotes the recording and wide circulation of the results of bird studies and observations through the production of its acclaimed scientific journal Notornis and other publications promoting birds in New Zealand. Birds New Zealand also seeks to assist the conservation and management of birds and their habitats by providing data, from which sound management decisions can be derived.