WWF's Conservation Innovation Awards

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An invention testing real time E. coli levels in New Zealand waterways has won a 2017 Conservation Innovation Award.

It's the second year in a row South Wairarapa-based WAI NZ has won the WWF award. Last year they won with a device called the RiverWatch Water Sensor, which recorded a variety of water quality data in real time to a smartphone or the cloud.

Check out these great articles - RadioLIVE Auckland (23 Nov 2017 1:02 PM), newshub (24 Nov), Gisborne Herald (24 Nov 2017), Wanganui Chronicle (24 Nov 2017),  Wairarapa Times-Age Weekend (25 Nov 2017), Otago Daily Times (25 Nov 2017), The News Westport (29 Nov 2017),  nzherald online (4 Dec).

The real risk of E. coli freshwater contamination is under the New Zealand spotlight, and now there’s a new game-changer solution on the way to revolutionise how Kiwis can take action in the national freshwater emergency.

2017 WWF-New Zealand Conservation Innovation Award winner, Water Action Initiative New Zealand (WAI NZ) is developing a real-time water-borne E. coli contamination sensor that will give community members, regional councils and government a tool to monitor freshwater in real-time, providing immediate detection of increased E.coli levels so that swifter action, including early health warnings, can be taken. WAI NZ received a $25,000 Awards grant to fast-track their idea from concept to development, to maximize impact for conservation. 

“Freshwater is the lifeblood of our country, as waterways are essential for the health of people, wildlife and economy,” said Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand’s Chief Executive Officer. “From multiple scientific reports and concerning incidences like the 2016 gastroenteritis outbreak of Havelock North, we know that our freshwater is being polluted and our rivers and lakes are in trouble. This is a crisis that needs a national-level response, including accurate and timely water monitoring. We believe that the Real-time E. coli Sensor will revolutionise how freshwater can be tested with wider benefits for ecosystem health.”

Behind the innovation is South Wairarapa-based WAI NZ, founded by farmer Grant Muir and his son, biologist James Muir. WAI NZ is a national grassroots organisation that aims to reduce freshwater pollution by using technology to empower the public to be freshwater guardians.

“Up until now testing for water borne E. coli has been time consuming and often ineffectual with results taking up to 48 hours to incubate in a laboratory,” James Muir said. “Our purpose-built design is a crossover of straight biology with cutting-edge innovative technology and the results are instant”. 

Receiving the Conservation Innovation Award establishes a pathway to refining, developing and manufacturing the E. coli sensor with collaborative partners ESR (Institute of Environmental Science and Research),” Mr Muir said. “Developing and commercializing something as ground breaking as this requires a team effort and WAI NZ is welcoming partners and investors to become part of the team to take this idea through to development and commercialization.”

“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”.

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

Out of a record-breaking 47 entries, the three winning ideas of WWF-New Zealand’s 2017 Conservation Innovation Awards, announced on 22 November 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 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. 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.

It’s what you’ve all been waiting for – the Conservation Innovation Awards are taking place tonight!

Thank you so much to everyone who submitted big, bold ideas to change the game for New Zealand’s nature. We received a record number of 47 entries this year, and choosing the winners was very challenging. Check out this highlights reel featuring all the 2017 entries.

Winners will be announced at the award ceremony tonight. We can’t wait! You can join in the fun on Twitter and Facebook – we’ll even be live-streaming some of the action, so no-one has to miss out.

In the meantime, check out this amazing video featuring 2016 award winners talking about how their innovations have been taken to the next level. It leaves only one question – what’s next for 2017?

Don’t forget to keep an eye on Twitter and Facebook for updates, and we will be getting in touch soon with more information about the winners.

Kia ora folks, as you know the 2017 Conservation Innovation Awards has now closed. We had lots of great entries and 35 finalists made it past the milestones.

The finalists' ideas are currently being assessed and winners will be announced at the Awards ceremony on 22 November.

In the meantime, excitement and interest in the 2017 Awards is increasing and there has been fabulous media support for our finalists

Check out some of these great media stories:

WALL-E 2.0 – Robot cleaner conservation award finalist (NZ Herald/Kapiti News, Oct 25) and Kapiti News (25 Oct 2017).

TADS (Thermal Animal Detection Systems) – Thermal-imaging camera could be the next big thing in pest control (NZ Herald/Kapiti News, Oct 18). This  story also ran in the Dominion Post Wellington (17 Oct 2017), Dominion Post Wellington (19 Oct 2017), Taranaki Daily News (19 Oct 2017), Timaru Herald (19 Oct 2017), Waikato Times (19 Oct 2017), Manawatu Standard (19 Oct 2017) & Upper Hutt Leader (25 Oct 2017).

Make Every School a Forest School – Whanganui proposal to ‘make every school a forest school’ finalist in Conservation Innovation Awards (River City Press 19 Oct 2017), Whanganui forest education project finalist for WWF award (NZ Herald, 25 Oct), River City Press (19 Oct 2017) & Wanganui Chronicle (25 Oct 2017).

Māori Carbon Farming Cooperative – Coast carbon faming initiative a finalist in innovation awards (Gisborne Herald, Oct 18), Opotiki News (24 Oct 2017) & Whakatane Beacon (25 Oct 2017).

Te Rarawa Noho Taiao: Growing the next generation of Iwi environmental leaders - Northern Advocate (19 Oct 2017), Marae enterprrise sowing a seed for the environment (The Northland Age, 2 Nov 2017) & Northland Age (2 Nov 2017).

The Baleen Filter – Preventing Plastic Microfibres from entering our oceans- The Breeze (Oct 8) & Radio NZ National Wellington (16 Oct 2017 3:04 PM).

Hihi Feeders "Capture, Identify, Advocate: Bringing Species back from the Brink" – Anderson's pitch to save the hihi (NZ Herald, 14 Oct), Wanganui Chronicle (14 Oct 2017) & River City Press (12 Oct 2017).

Supermarket for Surplus Food to Reduce NZ's Food Wastage – Dominion Post Wellington (17 Oct 2017).

Tend your Planet/War On Weeds - blogappsheet (25 Oct 2017).

If you know of any other news about the 2017 finalists, please let me know as we’re regularly sharing CIA news on Facebook and Twitter. It would be excellent if you can please share these social media posts with the #tag #ConservationInnovation.

Louisa McKerrow lmckerrow@wwf.org.nz

We discovered that our colleagues at WWF in the US are runing a crowsourcing challenge as well and thought some of you would have innovative ideas to share with them.

The WWF US Forest team is running a targeted 30-day crowdsourcing challenge  asking the crowd (that's you) to identify ways or messaging to leverage finance, how it can be accessed, and how this would help sustain a global alternative energy program. 

A prize of US$5000 is up for grabs by the winning individual or team. Enter here before 7 November to be in the running.

Ideas will be voted on by the crowd throughout the challenge and a committee of forest and energy experts will make the final selection of the idea that is the most financially and technically feasible.


How to get involved

There are lots of ways that you can get involved with the community. Whether you have ideas of your own you'd like to post, or if you'd just like to vote or comment on ideas posted by other users.

Check out the Forest Finance Challenge website to find out more.

Let's show them some kiwi innovation!

Today, 35 finalists have been announced for WWF-New Zealand’s 2017 Conservation Innovation Awards, including from Far North, Auckland, Raglan, Hamilton, East Coast, Waikanae, Martinborough, Palmerston North, Wanganui, Wellington, Upper Hutt, Dunedin, Nelson and Christchurch.

There were 47 entries logged from Kiwis across the country. Winners will be announced at the Awards ceremony in Wellington on 22 November.

Meet your 2017 Conservation Innovation Awards Finalists (listed per region):

  1. Hannah Smith Auckland Ur-bins (Urban Rat compost Bins) 
  2. Leigh Nicholson, Auckland Hanging Gardens of New Zealand - The new wonder of the modern world
  3. Andrew Lee, Auckland Restoration Drone for Polluted Waterways
  4. Michael Fielding, Auckland The Urban Rat Project
  5. Steven MacLeod, Auckland A data collective allowing communities to collaborate and share knowledge, leading to better community engagement and more Tui
  6. Sam Lindsay, Auckland Permanent Forest Bond - A Better Way to Finance Permanent Forest in Aotearoa
  7. Dan Ducker, Auckland, Tend your Planet/War On Weeds
  8. Paul White, Far North Te Rarawa Noho Taiao: Growing the next generation of Iwi environmental leaders
  9. Nigel Binks, Hamilton Investigating the weird, wonderful and sometimes freaky biodiversity of the Waikato: Engaging community, iwi and schools in biodiversity science
  10. Kevin Bain, Hamilton One self-resetting trap that kills both Possums and Rats
  11. Ecologist BW, Hamilton Autonomous Weed Eaters
  12. Jennifer Mcguire, Raglan Kiwi Trailblazers
  13. Maha Fier, Waikanae WALL-E 2.0
  14. Joanne Jackson, Martinborough Swimming with e-coli
  15. Chris Muller, Palmerston North The Drone Ranger – an aerial wildlife tracking system
  16. Allan Anderson, Wanganui Hihi Feeders - "Capture, Identify, Advocate: Bringing Species back from the Brink"
  17. Jack O'Carroll, Palmerston North The KOTAHI project
  18. Dani Lebo, Whanganui Make Every School a Forest School
  19. James Prier, Wellington Compost and catch, spreading the predator free movement  
  20. Abby Robertson, Wellington Supermarket for Surplus Food to Reduce NZ's Food Wastage
  21. Gerald Dickinson, Ngaio, Wellington Thermal Imaging to unmask what is in my backyard
  22. Marty Taylor, Wellington Te Wānanga Papa Taiao Pāuaua / Earthcare Enterprise Academies
  23. Pavel Plotinnov, Wellington Ultimate Domestic growing machine
  24. Chris Fink, Wellington Rooftop biodiversity hotspots
  25. Jordan Munn, Upper Hutt, TADS (Thermal Animal Detection Systems)
  26. Manu Caddie, New Zealand Māori Carbon Farming Cooperative
  27. Shannon Weaver, Dunedin Restoring the oceans abundance using seawater electrolysis- a marine conservation initiative
  28. Nathalie Wierdak, Dunedin Guardians of Zealandia
  29. Gemma McGrath, Otago Fluke & Flipper: Enhancing the Hector's Dolphin Sightings App
  30. Jeremy Stead Nelson The Baleen Filter – Preventing Plastic Microfibres from entering our oceans
  31. Christine Cleveland, Nelson Eco-Zoning
  32. Daniel Cutmore, Christchurch D.I.Y SmartGarden
  33. Kirsty Brennan, Christchurch STREAMED – A community-based online water clarity monitoring tool
  34. Grantryan New Zealand (Cacophony project Collaborative high tech solutions to make predator elimination thousands of times more efficient
  35. Squawk Squad Squawk Squad

Congratulations to all the 2017 Awards finalists! 

The Conservation Innovation Awards will reward innovative environmental game-changers. 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. 

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.

There are two days left to enter big, bold ideas and new solutions to New Zealand’s greatest environmental challenges, such as freshwater quality, climate change, species decline and invasive pests.

Open until midnight, Sunday 15 October, WWF-New Zealand’s 2017 Conservation Innovation Awards will reward innovative environmental game-changers. A prize package of $25,000 will be awarded to each of the three winners. To submit an idea, visit wwf-nz.crowdicity.com.

As of today, 37 entries have been logged from Kiwis across the country including from Dunedin, Nelson, Auckland, Raglan, Kerikeri, Hamilton, Martinborough, Wellington, Mangonui, Wanganui, Palmerston North, Christchurch and Waikanae. And more entries are welcome.

“Ingenuity and innovation are characteristics that Kiwis are renowned for, so if you have a bright idea that could make a real difference in the fight to protect our precious ecosystems and native species, get in quick and enter this year’s Conservation Innovation Awards,” said Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand’s Chief Executive Officer.

“We’re really keen to hear about any ideas, new technologies or innovative projects that tackle conservation obstacles, like climate, weeds, environmental education, invasive pests, improving water quality and saving native species,” she said. “Innovation can solve some of New Zealand's biggest conservation challenges and capitalise on the biggest opportunities – business as usual is no longer an option.

The Awards are driven by an innovative crowd sourcing application process – where inventors, conservationists and inquiring minds can come together to propose and refine ideas in real time. 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. Prizes will be awarded in three categories: Engaging young people and communities; Predator Free New Zealand 2050; and an Open Category.

The 2017 Awards are kindly supported by The Tindall Foundation, Department of Conservation, Callaghan Innovation, Predator Free 2050and New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge. An independent judging panel will be looking for new ideas that have practical application and are game-changers for the environment.

Now in its fourth year, the winners will be announced at a ceremony in Wellington on 22 November.For information about the Awards, past winners and how to enter, visit www.wwf.org.nz/innovation

Hurry up folks– 4 days to go!

Posted by Louisa McKerrow (Admin) 2 months ago

We’ve been so impressed by the quality and variety of the ideas that are being submitted.

You can get involved and help choose which ones pass to the next level and be eligible to win $25k! Check out some of the ideas that still need your votes to pass to the next level.

Te Wānanga Papa Taiao Pāuaua / Earthcare Enterprise Academies

Squawk Squad

The KOTAHI project

HIHI FEEDERS - "Capture, Identify, Advocate: Bringing Species back from the Brink"

X-Specs

Ultimate Domestic growing machine

 

Check out all the bright ideas for conservation here.

We need your feedback to help find and refine the next game-changers for the environment.

What do you think of these ideas?

Compost and catch, spreading the predator free movement

Collaborative high tech solutions to make predator elimination thousands of times more efficient

Restoration Drone for Polluted Waterways

The Drone Ranger – an aerial wildlife tracking system

Anywhere, anytime DNA diagnostics for conservation

Ur-bins

SWIMMING with E-COLI

Are they really new and unique, do you know of anyone working on something similar, how could they refine their ideas to increase the impact? Are they real game-changers for the environment?

Get voting, and share your opinions, comments and suggestions.

If you’ve got a bright idea - there are just 4 days left to enter the Conservation Innovation Awards! So get your ideas up - your entry needs time to gain feedback and pass the milestones (by midnight, Sunday 15 Ocotber) to be eligible.

Ideas pass milestones by winning enough votes and feedback from the Conservation Innovation community to refine ideas. They can then pass to the next stage and be considered by our judges. Not sure how milestones work? Read all about it here on our How to Meet Milestones blog.

Nga mihi, Louisa

In 2015, the Tolaga Bay-based Uawanui Project was a Conservation Innovation Awards winner, for integrating conservation efforts with economic, social and cultural development and education. Their inspiring idea was He Manawa Whenua - He Oranga Tangata : Healthy Environment – Healthy People.

The project has developed in partnership with the Tolaga Bay Area School, a broad scale sustainability plan for sustainable land management and restoration of the Uawa River Catchment and coast. The $25,000 WWF Awards grant helped the project develop training, capacity building and communication around the wider Uawanui Project.

Chair of the Uawanui Governance Group, Victor Walker, said winning the 2015 award was “fantastic as it provided an opportunity to raise the profile of the project and provided further credibility, recognition and support around the wider vision of what the community is working on”.

Check out this great article in the Gisborne Herald (October 3, 2017).

Now we’re on the look out for 2017 game-changing projects for one of three awards with $25,000 in funding.

We are really keen to hear about any ideas, new technologies or innovative projects that tackle conservation obstacles, like climate, weeds, environmental education, invasive pests, improving water quality and saving native species.

Prizes will be awarded in three categories:

  • engaging young people and communities;
  • Predator Free New Zealand 2050;
  • an open category.

So get your entries in quick to pass the voting milestones by midnight, Sunday 15 October!

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