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October 2021 Issue
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New DOC director-general appointed

The Department of Conservation has a new director-general, who will take over from Lou Sanson who has led the department for eight years.

Penny Nelson has been appointed for an initial five-year term, beginning on November 1.

Nelson has had a long career as a bureaucrat in Wellington. She is currently deputy director-general of biosecurity at the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), where she oversees the management of biosecurity risk and the response to pest and disease incursions.

Lou Sanson said Nelson was a proven leader: “I have known Penny for a number of years and have been highly impressed by her passionate work for the Sustainable Business Council, MFE and MPI.”

Deputy public service commissioner Helene Quilter said Nelson has “broad experience in the environment, biodiversity and science  sectors. She has considerable experience spearheading partnerships between government, business, iwi, NGOs and communities of interest.”  

Federated Mountain Clubs president Jan Finlayson said she hopes the new director-general will focus on low impact recreation and conservation, rather than commercial tourism.