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WWF-New Zealand Excited to Announce 2017 Conservation Innovation Award Winners

News Release – 22 November 2017

Out of a record-breaking 47 entries, the three winning ideas of WWF-New Zealand’s 2017 Conservation Innovation Awards, announced tonight are: a high-tech thermal imaging solution for invasive species’ management; a device that detects real-time E. coli contamination in freshwater; and an innovation that combines thermal imaging and artificial intelligence for a predator free New Zealand.

The Kiwi winners will each be awarded a $25,000 grant to fast-track their ideas from concept to development, to maximize impact for conservation, making a real difference in the fight to protect precious ecosystems and native species.

“We’re thrilled to announce our amazing 2017 winners,” said Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand’s Chief Executive Officer. “These big, bold ideas offer new solutions to some of our greatest environmental challenges, such as freshwater quality and invasive pests. These are Aotearoa’s only Conservation Innovation Awards, and WWF-New Zealand is passionate to support smarter ways to improve, protect and restore NZ’s unique biodiversity.”

The winning ideas for 2017 are:

Thermal Animal Detection Systems (TADS)

Using a helicopter, the military grade, thermal imaging TADS system can quickly cover difficult terrain and large forested areas and has the ability to detect 90 – 100% of a target invasive pest population (goats, deer and pigs). The judging panel was very impressed by TADS as it has huge potential to reduce costs and improve the effectiveness of managing ungulates in conservation reserves and offshore islands and could be used to monitor endangered native species. “We’re so excited to win this Award,” said winner Jordan Munn from Upper Hutt’s Trap and Trigger. “This financial help is the boost we need to finish the product and get it into the air working perfectly.”

Real-time E. coli Sensor

Wairarapa-based Water Action Initiative New Zealand (WAI NZ) is developing a water-borne E. coli contamination sensor that can give community members and regional councils a tool to monitor freshwater in real-time, providing immediate detection of increased E.coli levels so that swifter action can be taken. The judging panel believes the sensor will revolutionise how freshwater can be tested with wider benefits for ecosystem health. Winner Grant Muir said: “We want to see all NZ rural and urban water catchments protected and enhanced for future generations, so winning this Award is such a boost with a pathway to refine, develop and manufacture the sensor”.

Grid-i Pest Detective

Gerald Dickinson of GRID-i on stage; -David Tong WWF-NZ

The Grid-i innovation, developed by Wellington electronic design enthusiast Gerald Dickinson, combines thermal imaging and artificial intelligence software to identify and monitor specific invasive mammal pests like rats and possums. Having the ability to move away from current indiscriminate pest removal methods and target specific species more accurately will be widely beneficial for conservation operations working towards a Predator Free New Zealand 2050. The judging panel was excited as this technology has great potential for eradication operations to locate and remove the last few pests from an area. “This Award opens up many new doors where we can finally come out of a backyard garage to progress Grid-i as an advanced and more affordable predator management tool,” Mr Dickinson said.

Ms Esterhazy said it was a very tough competition this year to select the three inspiring winners as there were 35 impressive finalists. “It was so close that we decided to award this year, for the first time, a special commendation to Squawk Squad,” she said.

“Using fun and interactive school campaigns, Squawk Squad is an exciting idea from passionate young Kiwis who got 40,000 kids and 800 schools involved in conservation in one week. Kiwi kids are the future of conservation in New Zealand, so as our 2017 special commendation, we’re keen to work with Squawk Squad to maximize their conservation potential.”

The 2017 Awards are supported by The Tindall Foundation, Department of Conservation, Callaghan Innovation, Predator Free 2050 and New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge.

For information about the Awards, visit www.wwf.org.nz/innovation

 

Science and Social License: The Predator Free 2050 Research Strategy 

News Release – 16 November 2017

Predator Free 2050 Ltd today revealed the organisation’s four-part science research strategy to help save our natural heritage.

Developed in partnership with leading scientists and predator control experts, the strategy is designed to achieve one of the organisation’s 2025 interim goals; a break-through science solution capable of eradicating a mammalian predator from the New Zealand mainland.

The strategy outlines four concurrent programmes: ‘environment and society’, ‘eradicating the last 1%’, ‘new genetic control tools’ and ‘computer modelling’.

“This is how we intend to drive the science behind Predator Free 2050” says Ed Chignell, CEO of Predator Free 2050 Ltd.

The research strategy has the backing of New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge and has undergone review by independent experts.

Dr Dan Tompkins, Project Manager for the Predator Free 2050 Ltd Science Strategy, says that the focus of the approach is on informing a national conversation.

“The first programme of the research strategy is ‘environment and society’, an exploration of New Zealand’s social and cultural views about predator eradication. It is the foundation for the entire strategy and signals Predator Free 2050’s commitment to transparency and dialogue right from the outset. A science breakthrough without a deep respect for ethics and the social license to operate, is no breakthrough at all.”

Elements of the ‘environment and society’ programme are underway through a bioethics panel and a recently completed social survey – both initiated by the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge.

“The strategy separates technical research into two further programmes, each separate pathways to achieve the Predator Free goal” says Dr Tompkins.

“A programme on ‘eradicating the last 1%’ focuses on upgrading current predator control approaches. While New Zealand is a world leader in mammalian pest control, eradication and keeping areas predator free remains a challenge.”

“Recent advances in fields like wireless remote monitoring and AI offer exciting potential to innovate and build on the success of current approaches. Initially, the ‘eradicating the last 1%’ programme will focus on possums.”

The second technical programme aims to inform New Zealanders as to the benefits and risks of ‘new genetic control tools’, prior to any commitment to develop such tools for Predator Free 2050. Dr Tompkins acknowledges the concerns some New Zealanders and international observers have about this approach and notes that there are many technological hurdles to overcome.

“Predator Free 2050 are not advocating for any specific technology to achieve New Zealand’s eradication goals. The organisation’s role is to advance our understanding of the range of options available for the task and facilitate a national conversation as to which approaches meet our collective social, ethical and practical standards.”

“Informed by international perspectives, New Zealand stakeholders need to collectively decide which technologies should have a place in the Predator Free 2050 vision, and which should not.”

Underpinning the Predator Free 2050 research strategy is the fourth programme, ‘computer modelling’. This involves the development of shared tools that all communities and agencies contributing to Predator Free 2050 can use to design the right approach for their goals and environment.

Dr Andrea Byrom, Director of the Biological Heritage Science Challenge, says the organisation stands behind the Predator Free research strategy.

“The Challenge has always recognised that the Predator-Free vision is bigger than all of us, so we support a collective effort – including a coordinated and joined-up science and research effort – to achieve this goal.”

The release of the research strategy follows Predator Free 2050 Ltd’s recent call for expressions of interest in funding and support for landscape scale predator control projects.

For more information on the science research strategy.

 

2017 WWF Conservation Innovation Awards

Update – 8 October 2017

Search is on for the next environmental game-changers

As of today, 25 ​entries have been logged from Kiwis across the country for WWF-New Zealand’s 2017 Conservation Innovation Awards, including from Dunedin, Nelson, Auckland, Raglan, Kerikeri, Hamilton, Martinborough, Wellington, Palmerston North, Christchurch and Waikanae. And we are welcoming many more entries.

Closing on 15 October, the Conservation Innovation Awards will reward innovative environmental game-changers. To submit your idea, visit wwf-nz.crowdicity.com. Designed to help innovators fast-track their ideas to development, the Awards cover three categories – Engaging young people and communities, Predator Free New Zealand 2050, and an Open Category. A prize package of $25,000 will be awarded to each category winner.

All New Zealanders can get involved in the Awards by joining the WWF Conservation Innovation community at wwf-nz.crowdicity.com to comment and vote on their favourite ideas.

The 2017 Awards are supported by The Tindall Foundation, Department of Conservation, Callaghan Innovation, Predator Free 2050 Ltd and New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge.

Entrants need to submit their ideas as soon as they can at wwf-nz.crowdicity.com For information about the Awards and past winners, visit www.wwf.org.nz/innovation

 

 

 

 

Release – 26 September 2017

WWF NZ and Predator Free 2050 Ltd are looking for big, bold game-changers to help our environment.

If you’re an inventor, an innovator, or a creator, enter the 2017 Conservation Innovation Awards for the chance to win a $25k grant.

The Awards – open from 25 September to 15 October – celebrate Kiwi innovators whose bright ideas look set to make a real difference in protecting our precious ecosystems and native species.

Prizes will be awarded in three categories:

  • Engaging young people and communities
  • Predator Free New Zealand 2050
  • Open Category

Find out more about the Conservation Innovation Awards

Last year’s winners were a water testing device, a drone tracking system and an app that maps kauri dieback.

“The Award has opened doors, broken down some barriers and opened minds to what is achievable.” Philip Solaris, 2016 winner with ‘DroneCounts’

The Conservation Innovation Awards are supported by The Tindall Foundation, Department of Conservation, Callaghan Innovation, Predator Free 2050 Ltd and New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge.

We’re proud to support people who are leading innovation in New Zealand conservation and protecting our unique places and wildlife.

 

Ed Chignell talks to Radio Live

Ed Chignell interview – 16 September 2017

Predator Free 2050 Ltd CEO Ed Chignell talks to Radio Live’s Graeme Hill about Predator Free 2050 and the recent call out for expressions of interest to parties seeking funding and support for large scale predator eradication projects.  Listen to the interview here.

 

Predator Free 2050 Ltd on the hunt to fund bold conservation projects

News Release — 12 September 2017

Starting today (12 September), New Zealand conservation groups committed to broad scale predator eradication are encouraged to lodge an expression of interest for funding and support from Predator Free 2050 Ltd.

The organisation – tasked with eradicating possums, rats and stoats from New Zealand by 2050 is seeking Expressions of Interest from regional and local councils, community organisations, mana whenua, businesses, Non-Governmental Organisations and other entities capable of delivering eradication initiatives in line with its 2025 goals.

The 2025 goals include enlarging target predator suppression to an additional one million hectares of mainland New Zealand, eradicating predators from at least 20,000 hectares of mainland New Zealand without the use of fences, eradicating all predators from New Zealand’s island nature reserves and achieving a breakthrough science solution capable of eradicating at least one small mammalian predator from the mainland.

Predator Free 2050 Ltd is required to secure matching investment of $2 for every $1 of Crown investment. Accordingly, any proposed landscape scale projects need to be able of demonstrating the ability or potential to provide sufficient funding to meet these financial parameters.

Expressions of interest will need to demonstrate a clear potential for large-scale predator eradication and will be evaluated against 13 criteria. Most notably, projects need to be ambitious in scale, capable of delivering transformational biodiversity gains, align to the Predator Free mission and demonstrate sound management capacity and financials.

Predator Free 2050 Ltd CEO Ed Chignell says these large-scale projects are critical to driving forward the Predator Free 2050 vision. “These are our pathfinder projects, the proving grounds for innovative new tools and a collaborative partnership approach.

“We’re laying the foundations for the next three decades of Predator Free 2050 operations, working towards achieving our mainland suppression/eradication goals and making inroads towards scientific breakthrough.”

Expressions of interest close on October 13, followed by shortlisting and requests for full proposals. Funding approvals are slated for mid-February 2018.

Parties interested in lodging an expression of interest can find out more here.


 

Predator Free 2050 Research Strategy Interview

Our Project Manager Dr Dan Tompkins talks to Radio NZ’s Jesse Mulligan and explains whats involved in our Predator Free Research Strategy.

Listen to the full interview.