How do you make ecological expertise available to a wide range of groups, organisations and government entities? By running a world-leading environmental consultancy. This International Women’s Day, we chatted with Biz Bell, who is doing just that with her company Wildlife Management International Ltd (WMIL). And in her work, Biz has managed projects that have successfully eradicated introduced predators from islands across the world – including Europe, the Pacific and Caribbean.
Research, field work and community outreach
As owner and managing director of WMIL, Biz works with a dedicated and passionate team of ecologists on a range of research and restoration projects. Her work focuses on protecting species on islands and studying native birds – particularly seabirds.
“The days are extremely varied. One day we might be monitoring breeding populations of birds or reaching into burrows to grab out a parent bird incubating an egg or small chick.
“The next day we might be completing predator control work or eradicating invasive species from an island. Or sharing what we have learnt about birds and predators with the local community, iwi and the public,” she says.
A passion that runs in the family
Wellington-born Biz has been involved in conservation professionally for over 30 years – but has been fascinated by the natural world since childhood.
“I grew up in an ornithological and conservation-obsessed family. We travelled the world with my father, Brian Bell, following his work with the NZ Wildlife Service and Department of Conservation. We went to islands where we saw him working with our native New Zealand taonga.
“These formative years really made me want to be part of the conservation team. One of my earliest seabird memories was going with Dad to pick up an exhausted albatross from the Wellington coastline.
“All I could think about was how big this bird was – bigger than my Dad – and how beautiful it was. I really hoped we could save it.
“Wonderful birds, lizards, frogs and insects on amazing islands were part of growing up and I wanted to be the person who continued to do that important work of protecting and enhancing those species and places,” says Biz.
One of the biggest highs of the role for Biz is the successes she’s achieved in pest eradication on islands across the globe. And for Biz, it’s so much more than just a professional win.
“I love seeing newly predator free spaces and species recover. There’s also a real joy that comes from seeing communities reconnecting with their natural environments and taking the ownership of these projects into the future,” she says.
Bringing her global expertise to New Zealand and focusing it towards our predator free projects has also been incredibly rewarding.
“It’s been fantastic to see lessons learnt across all national and international projects being used in our work toward the Predator Free 2050 vision,” she says.