In this episode of Executive with a Cause, host Tammy Ven Dange chats with Jim Lynch, founder of Zealandia, an eco-sanctuary in Wellington, New Zealand.

From a pipe-dream in the nineties to creating what’s heralded as the world’s first ‘mainland island eco-sanctuary’, Jim takes us through the journey of turning his conservation passion into a financially sustainable park that has inspired others with his 500-year plan.

Jim recognised that conservation projects often lived and died with their founder. Therefore, from the beginning, Zealandia’s plan was for diverse income streams to support this long-term vision, including raising revenue and awareness through their in-person sanctuary experiences. Now expanding this conservation model, Jim hopes to apply the restoration approach to Puketahā in the Wellington region, and beyond.

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IT in Plain English

This week’s episode breaks down the mystery surrounding ‘shadow IT’ in organisations. Increasingly popular as software becomes more accessible, this ‘doubling up’ of the IT function  can pose a data and governance risk to your organisation. Shadow IT systems also cause problems for the actual IT departments, who may be unable to assist with issues for software they haven’t been involved in. Tune in to find out Tammy’s advice for this, so you can feel confident your IT infrastructure is both centrally managed and secure.

Sign-up here to subscribe to the “IT in Plain English” newsletter. You can submit your question to Tammy Ven Dange by messaging her on LinkedIn, and maybe she’ll answer it on the show.

Topics from this episode:

  • 0.00 | Introduction
  • 08.42 | The Natural Wellington Plan
  • 12.15 | Finding funding
  • 21.43 | Creating a permanent organisation
  • 26. 25 | Staffing structure
  • 34.45 | Neighbours in opposition
  • 39.25 | Comparing to the wild
  • 55.34 | Further information

Quotes from Jim Lynch in this episode:

“As a planner, I was fascinated by the fact they have 200-year plans. That’s amazing! And the guy said, ‘that’s how long it takes to grow a western red cedar to cutting age’. And I thought, well then, we should have a 500-year plan because that’s how long it takes to grow and mature a renewed tree. And when I came back I said, ‘that’s our vision, we’re going to have a 500-year plan’. And now we do”

“Zealandia was built on five revenue streams. One was memberships. We wanted memberships for two reasons. One was to give the community ownership, like shareholders. Secondly was donations. We could leave it open for people to donate as much as they liked. That was very powerful in the early days, people gave very generously. The third element was visitation, so people would come and pay an entry fee. The fourth was events where people could host a function like weddings and Christmas parties. And the fifth revenue stream was crucial business, like the cafe and gift shop. So we tried to build the organisation so it has as many revenue streams as possible. And this was supplemented by the Wellington City Council who donated an operating grant equivalent to what it would have cost them to run it as a park”

“We do have a 500-year plan. We actually sit that out in sections. We had the first 10 years, then we have the next 50 years, and then what it would look like in 100 years and 500 years. it was a very real plan and that plan still holds, it’s still in place”

“We built the experience as an educational experience. So we told the whole story of New Zealand, and how special this was. And people related to that. It’s just remarkable how people responded to that. And even people who have nothing to do with New Zealand. You know, Americans are pretty fascinated by it. Australians love it. And they really understand it once they go through and have it explained to them”

“The reason it took a long time to get biodiversity was because we were essentially starting from ground zero. When we started we only had 12 species of birds in the valley, and they were in tiny numbers”

“The fence was a unique Wellington custom-designed fence. It went through a lot of research and trials, and we had to build it quite solid because we didn’t even know if it would work, it was essentially an experiment”

“We were taking a huge risk and we expected to have regular break-ins all the time of pests. But in actual fact, it’s been remarkably successful. It’s been up for 20 years now. The only incursions were a couple of weasels that got in when the tree fell across the fence in the storm. We haven’t been able to get mice out because mice are very difficult to control. They breed very fast and live in tiny spaces, but we’ve got all the rats, all the cats, all the stoats and possums, they’re all gone, they’ve been eradicated”

Links & Resources


Thanks to our Producer, Nick Whatman, and the entire team at Lonsdale St. Studio. Thanks also to our Digital Content Creator, Laura Kleinrahm.


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