WWF's Conservation Innovation Awards

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Wasps are a serious problem for people on picnics, but their effects on native insect populations are devastating.

Last year, The Nelson Mail Stuff.co.nz's Wasp Wipeout campaign saw a 98% reduction in wasp populations. Hundreds of volunteers set Vespex bait traps along hundreds of kilometres of DOC walking tracks and public areas.

Vespex was a 2015 #ConservationInnovation Awards winner & Wasp Wipeout was a 2016 Awards finalist.

Check out this article from Stuff (December 17 2017).

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.

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

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!

A 2016 Conservation Innovation Awards finalist has won a Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers Association (PANPA) award.

Congratulations to Nelson Mail's Wasp Wipeout which has just been named the best Environmental campaign at the recent PANPA award ceremony in Sydney.

Nelson regional editor Victoria Guild said it was fantastic the campaign had been recognised internationally.

"This is a great reward for the hard work from our team, DOC and the Tasman Environmental Trust.

The Wasp Wipeout campaign is a collaborative conservation project that aims to significantly reduce German and common wasp populations in the Nelson-Tasman region.Wasp Wipeout has also been a finalist in the Environment Ministry's Green Ribbon awards and the Canon Media Awards.

The PANPA are prestigious industry awards that recognise the best work in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Asia.

For the full story, click here.

There is a game-changing tool on the way in the war against kauri dieback disease which is having a devastating effect on New Zealand’s native forests.
 
Thanks to the 2016 WWF-New Zealand Conservation Innovation Awards, sustainable land management group Groundtruth is developing a Stop Kauri Dieback app that will support community engagement and management of kauri dieback. The fungus-like disease with no known cure is killing kauri forests in Northland, and kauri could become extinct in some locations without urgent action.
 
Open to 15 October, the 2017 Conservation Innovation Awards is now looking for the next environmental game-changers. To submit an idea, visit wwf-nz.crowdicity.com. A prize package of $25,000 will be awarded to each of the three winners. 

“The Conservation Innovation Awards celebrate Kiwi innovators whose bright ideas, like the Stop Kauri Dieback app, look set to make a real difference in the fight to protect our precious ecosystems and native species,” said Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand’s Chief Executive Officer. “We welcome big, bold, game-changing ideas, because conservation innovation is imperative.” 

Peter Handford and Daniel Bar-Even are behind the Stop Kauri Dieback app which is being developed in discussion with organisations fighting to save kauri. 

“Kauri dieback disease is having a devastating effect on the giants of our forest,” Groundtruth Director, Peter Handford said. “In the past 10 years, kauri dieback has killed thousands of kauri. 

To save kauri, it is critical to discover where outbreaks are occurring as soon as possible and provide people with simple steps they can take to avoid spreading the disease.”

Mr Handford said the app would support all forest visitors, trampers, walkers and conservation volunteers to identify and record possible sightings – and take simple steps to avoid spreading it – like washing their boots or staying away from the area. 

Mr Handford said winning the 2016 Conservation Innovation Award had made a big difference to this project, providing a combination of credibility and collaboration. “The Awards is a highly productive space with different individuals and organisations working together,” he said.

“The Awards help break down silos and promote collaborative work around innovation.” 

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. For information about the Awards, past winners and how to enter, visit www.wwf.org.nz/innovation

The search is on for big, bold, game-changing ideas and new solutions to New Zealand’s greatest environmental challenges, such as freshwater quality, climate change, species decline and invasive pests.
 
Open from 25 September, WWF-New Zealand’s 2017 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. Entries close on 15 October. 

“The Conservation Innovation Awards celebrate Kiwi innovators whose bright ideas will make a real difference in the fight to protect our precious ecosystems and native species,” said Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand’s Chief Executive Officer. “We are looking for new ideas that have practical application and that are game changers for the environment. 

“We encourage Kiwi innovators from all walks of life – from research labs to garden sheds and everywhere in-between – to apply their creativity and come up with ideas, new technologies or innovative projects that will aid the work of frontline conservation throughout the country and tackle conservation obstacles. 

“Ingenuity and innovation are characteristics that Kiwis are renowned for and the Conservation Innovation Awards has supported a number of innovative environmental solutions, including a commercial wasp bait, a freshwater testing system and an app to help kauri conservation.” 

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. 

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. 

“The power of the crowd is gaining momentum and for the Conservation Innovation Awards this collective approach means that ideas for furthering conservation work, which will ultimately benefit all New Zealanders, can be fine-tuned to their full potential,” Ms Esterhazy said. 

Entrants need to submit their ideas as soon as they can at wwf-nz.crowdicity.com 

The 2016 Awards attracted a record 41 entries from across the country. 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

WWF-New Zealand Conservation Innovation Awards winner DroneCounts is taking wildlife tracking to the next level in the urgent fight to stem the tragic loss of species, both locally and globally.

Thought to be a world first, DroneCounts can GPS track and map the location of tagged endangered species, providing time-synchronised data about the target species’ behaviour to assist conservation management. The system can also be used to track wildlife poachers.

DroneCounts took flight after winning $25,000 through the 2016 Conservation Innovation Awards, which enabled the team to further refine the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) design and build a flexible information gathering system that is more efficient, cheaper and saves time and energy.

The Conservation Innovation Awards celebrate Kiwi innovators whose bright ideas, like DroneCounts, look set to make a real difference in the fight to protect our precious ecosystems and native species,” said Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand’s Chief Executive Officer. “We welcome big, bold, game-changing ideas.”

Open from 25 September to 15 October, the 2017 Conservation Innovation Awards ​will ​reward innovative environmental game-changers. To submit an idea, visit www.wwf.org.nz/innovation. A prize package of $25,000 will be awarded to each of the three winners. The 2017 Awards are supported by The Tindall Foundation, Department of Conservation, Callaghan Innovation and New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge.

“Business as usual is no longer an option,” Ms Esterhazy said. “Our native species extinction rates in New Zealand are among the highest in the world. To reverse these trends, conservation innovation is imperative. We must seek transformational change and rapidly create new solutions. Together, we can make a difference and deliver world-leading conservation innovation!”

The men behind the DroneCounts invention are Auckland-based Philip Solaris (robotic aviation company X-craft) and John Sumich (Ark in the Park and Habitat Te Henga).This innovative idea was sparked when they realised traditional approaches to wildlife monitoring were severely limited by old-fashioned technology, vegetation, distance, terrain, weather and operator safety.

Mr Solaris said the DroneCounts aircraft operated as an ‘on-call’ data collector, providing crucial data in the most efficient way without the need of human intervention.The capabilities, opportunities and applications of this new system are seemingly limitless – it can operate on land, in air or water, at night, in extreme temperatures and weather conditions. The system can be customised to track wildlife, livestock or even emergency services personnel conducting search and rescue missions after disaster events.

Before commercialisation, the DroneCounts team wants to shrink the size of the unit with custom-built componentry, so the end product is the most advanced system possible. To get this incredible tool into production and out in the environment making a difference, X-craft is actively seeking investors.

Mr Solaris said the Conservation Innovation Award had definitely made a difference. “The Award has opened doors, where previously people were sceptical,” he said. “Those doors can be difficult to open sometimes and the Award has broken down some barriers and opened minds to what is achievable.”

For information about the Awards, past winners and how to enter, visit www.wwf.org.nz/innovation

A game-changer solution to New Zealand’s freshwater emergency, WWF-New Zealand Conservation Innovation Awards winner the RiverWatch Water Sensor is heading towards commercial market production.

As a 2016 Conservation Innovation Awards winner, $25,000 core funding was provided to develop the RiverWatch prototype which remotely monitors and records freshwater quality, where it can be used by hundreds of community groups to collect much-needed data from rivers, lakes and streams. This simple floating device is equipped with unique probes which monitor data, including pH level, temperature, conductivity, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen.

Open from 25 September to 15 October, the 2017 Conservation Innovation Awards will seek out and reward innovative game-changers for conservation. To find out how to submit an idea visit www.wwf.org.nz/innovation.

A prize package of $25,000 will be awarded to each of the three winners. The 2017 Awards are supported by The Tindall FoundationDepartment of ConservationCallaghan Innovation and New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge.

“The Conservation Innovation Awards help bring amazing ideas to life – such as the RiverWatch Water Sensor which provides a solution to New Zealand’s worsening river and freshwater quality, and could have a major impact on the restoration of our freshwater for generations to come,” said Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand’s Chief Executive Officer.

“From multiple scientific reports, we know that our freshwater is being polluted and our rivers and lakes are in trouble,” Ms Esterhazy said. “This is a national crisis and requires a national level response, including accurate and timely water monitoring. Rivers are the lifeblood of our country and communities deserve and need to know the condition of their waterways. Clean, safe waterways are essential for the health of people, wildlife and economy.”

The RiverWatch Water Sensor has been developed by Water Action Initiative New Zealand (WAI NZ) in collaboration with students from Victoria University of Wellington's School of Engineering and Computer Science. Behind the initiative is South Wairarapa farmer Grant Muir and his son James Muir.

“Water quality is really important to many New Zealanders,” Grant Muir said. “Recent surveys show that 93% of Kiwis believe there is a freshwater crisis in New Zealand and something must be done about it.“This Water Sensor will give community members the opportunity to take action and monitor the water quality in their local rivers, giving real time data on the health of the waterways.”

Mr Muir said the Water Sensor logged data 24/7, and was easy to operate, portable and inexpensive. Any incident reports on waterways can be automated by the website and emailed to the appropriate authorities for action.

RiverWatch has already gained support from water scientists, regional and local councils, citizen scientists, community groups, iwi organisations, farmers and fishermen – within New Zealand and internationally.

“We already have orders waiting and there is interest from overseas groups involved in water monitoring,” Mr Muir said.“There is significant interest in modifying the sensor to work in salt water, especially from inshore fisheries that are in crisis due to increased sedimentation. We are working with the Institute of Environmental Research Ltd and other data collection agencies to develop a third version which tests for water born E. coli pathogens and water soluble nitrates.”

Mr Muir said the Water Sensor was designed for New Zealand conditions. “It is solar-powered and able to be remotely monitored, and is suited for temporary or permanent site applications,” he said. “Income from the sale of RiverWatch products will go directly back to conservation innovation, research and development for future generations of New Zealanders.”

WAI NZ is now seeking funding to cover costs to get version three of the sensor to commercial market production through the crowd funding platform PledgeMe and other sources.

Winning the Conservation Innovation Award helped us finalise the prototype, raise the RiverWatch profile, engage people in Aotearoa's water quality issue and open doors to further funding,” Mr Muir said. “Without WWF and these Awards, we would not be in this exciting space. I encourage people who have an idea that will make a difference across anything environmental to put their ideas forward and enter the Conservation Innovation Awards.”

For information about the Awards, past winners and how to enter, visit www.wwf.org.nz/innovationYou can support the development of the RiverWatch Water Tester at www.riverwatch.nz/

Are you an inventor, an innovator, a creator? Could $25,000 help turn your idea into reality?

WWF-New Zealand, with supporters The Tindall Foundation, Department of Conservation and Callaghan Innovation and NZ’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, is on the search—from research labs to garden sheds and everywhere in between—for new ideas that could positively impact the environment.

Open from 25 September to 15 October, the Conservation Innovation Awards will seek out and reward innovative game-changers for conservation. To find out how to submit an idea visit www.wwf.org.nz/innovation. A prize package of $25,000 will be awarded to each of the three winners.

“Business as usual is no longer an option,” said Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand’s Chief Executive Officer. “Clearly the environment is being stretched beyond its capacity, and that is why WWF-New Zealand is calling for environmental game-changers that create positive impacts for the environment.”

“Ingenuity and innovation are characteristics that Kiwis are renowned for, so if you have a great idea that could make a difference to the way communities can protect our special places and wildlife, enter this year’s Conservation Innovation Awards.

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.”

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.

 The 2016 Awards attracted a record 41 entries from innovators and creators across the country. Last year’s award-winning ideas were: DroneCounts, taking wildlife tracking to the next level; the RiverWatch Water Sensor which monitors freshwater quality using real time data; and Stop Kauri Dieback, an app which will allow people to record and map dieback sightings.

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

The NZ RiverWatch invention is inspiring interest from regional councils, farmers and researchers as a game changer for freshwater monitoring.

The team at Water Action Initiative New Zealand (WAI NZ) is now seeking support via PledgeMe campaign to get the RiverWatch Water Sensor into production so that all Kiwis can find out what's really going on in their waterways. To support this campaign, please visit here. Any pledge you're able to make brings this innovation one step closer to saving New Zealand's freshwater.

A 2016 WWF Conservation Innovation Awards winner, the RiverWatch Water Sensor has been developed by WAI NZ in collaboration with students from Victoria University of Wellington's School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Read more in yesterday's Newsroom NZ article - Farmer: Govt unwilling to show state of NZ water.

Inventor Grant Ryan says new technologies and data crunching should mean New Zealand is predator-free before the Government's set target of 2050.

Grant's The Cacophony Project - Modern Information Technology to eliminate Predators from New Zealand was a 2016 Conservation Innovation Awards entrant.

Check out this great Newsroom story and video by Mark Jennings (5 July 2017).

 

 

2015 Conservation Innovation Awards winner, the Uawanui Project has been in the news this month.

The Uawanui Project continues to move ahead with a range of key initiatives. Recent important achievements include:  Working with QEII Trust, Weedbusters and WWF- New Zealand to support weed control training and begin developing a local cadet crew (Gisborne Herald, June 27).

The Uawanui Project was mentioned in Gisborne Herald (June 23) story about a young scientist raised in Ruatoria who has been awarded the Fulbright Science and Innovation Graduate Award and hopes to inspire more Tairawhiti students to get into science.“Whether in the traditional route, such as university, or community projects such as Uawanui Project, where all the kids are involved in taking water samples and planting trees" 

In the news too also (Gisborne Herald, June 19 )was the Tangaroa Ara Rau project which involves Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti and the community under their Uawanui Project, working together with science organisations to develop understanding and innovation about safe and sustainable food gathering. 

Recognising environmental and conservation initiatives throughout New Zealand, yesterday the finalists for the 2017 Green Ribbon Awards were announced.

This is excellent news for two Conservation Innovation Awards (CIA) finalists. Congratulations to the teams and communities of Fairfax Media/Nelson Mail and Polhill Protectors/The Polhill Project.

In the Business Leadership category is Wasp Wipeout by Fairfax Media Nelson Mail. Wasp Wipeout was a 2016 CIA finalist.

In the Community Leadership category is Polhill Protectors/The Polhill Project. The Polhill Project was a CIA 2015 finalist with Saddleback in the city and a CIA 2016 finalist with “Predator Free New Zealand: the Facebook frontier.

The national 2017 Green Ribbon Awards, now in its 27th year, plays an important role in celebrating and raising the profile of outstanding contributions by individuals, communities and organisations to protect and manage New Zealand’s environment.

All Green Ribbon Awards finalists will be invited to attend a ceremony at Parliament on 8 June. Winners will be announced for each category, including the overall supreme winner. Check out media release and read the finalists’ stories on the Green Ribbon Awards website www.greenribbonawards.org.nz

The River Watch sensor is set help community members take action and monitor the water quality in their local rivers, giving real time data on the health of the waterways.

This great initiative, developed by Water Action Initiative (WAI) New Zealand in collaboration with students and staff from the Victoria University of Wellington, was a 2016 Conservation Innovation Awards winner.

Check out this TV news story from Newshub (24 April 2017) - click here. Many thanks to Newshub reporter Isobel Ewing for this report.

 

 

Using drone trackers for wildlife research, monitoring health of waterways and developing an app to help Kauri conservation – these are the winning ideas of WWF-New Zealand’s 2016 Conservation Innovation Awards, announced today.

The Kiwi innovators behind these ideas will each be awarded a $25,000 grant to recognise their contribution to innovation in conservation. The three winners will be congratulated at an event in Wellington tonight, MCed by journalist and public speaker, Rod Oram, and with Hon Steven Joyce, Minister of Science and Innovation, as the keynote speaker.
 
The winning ideas are:

DroneCounts
DroneCounts wants to take wildlife tracking to the next level, with a model that can pick up several signals and map wildlife in an area. The men behind the invention are Auckland-based John Sumich (Ark in the Parkand Habitat Te Henga) and Philip Solaris (X-craft). “This award will open opportunities to enable our innovation to assist the urgent fight to stem the tragic loss of species, both locally and globally,” Mr Solaris said. “A prototype has already been deployed that is capable of detecting multiple transmitter signals, on differing frequencies, which to our knowledge is a world first. The aim now is to increase the autonomy of the aircraft, enabling it to track, locate and record these signals in the most efficient way without the need of human intervention”.
 
River Watch Water Testing Device
Water quality is really important to many Kiwis. This device will give community members the opportunity to take action and monitor the water quality in their local rivers, giving real time data on the health of the waterways. The River Watch Water Tester has been developed by Water Action Initiative (WAI) New Zealand in collaboration with students from Victoria University of Wellington's School of Engineering and Computer Science. This simple floating device helps determine the health of New Zealand’s waterways by measuring temperature, conductivity, turbidity and pH levels. The River Watch water device logs data over a 48-hour period, is simple to operate, portable and inexpensive. Behind the initiative is South Wairarapa farmer Grant Muir and his son James Muir. Grant Muir said “This award will allow for the nationwide roll out of the prototype and will have a major impact on the restoration of our fresh water for generations to come”.

Stop Kauri Dieback – helping to save our Kauri
Kauri dieback disease is having a devastating effect on the giants of our forest, and there is no known cure. It is critical that we know where outbreaks are occurring as soon as possible. Peter Handford and Daniel Bar-Even from Groundtruth are developing an app which will allow people to record and map dieback sightings, so they can take simple steps to avoid spreading it – like washing their boots or staying away from the area. Peter Handford said “Stop Kauri Dieback will enable all forest visitors, trampers, walkers and conservation volunteers to record sightings of the deadly disease kauri dieback. This will help those fighting kauri dieback to gain a better picture of the impact this disease is having, and where to focus their attention to combat the disease”.

WWF’s Conservation Innovation Awards, supported by The Tindall Foundation, celebrate innovation and collaboration, with the aim to find and support the best innovative ideas for conservation from talented and passionate Kiwis.
 
WWF’s Head of New Zealand Projects, Michele Frank, said the entries submitted to this year’s awards were inspirational.
 
“These awards are an exciting collaboration between people who are all passionate about improving the natural environment. Using a crowdsourcing website, entrants posted their ideas publicly, joined discussions with site visitors and then adapted their ideas in response to comments,” Ms Frank said.
 
“We are proud to be celebrating our winners for being at the forefront of conservation thinking and committed to developing ideas that look set to change the game. By harnessing creativity like this we can bring better tools to the community volunteer army and better protect our wildlife, sooner.”
 
This year there were 41 entries from across the country including Kaipara Harbour, Thames, Paekakairki, Christchurch, Golden Bay, Motueka, Katikati, Stewart Island, Marlborough Sounds, Te Puke, Martinborough, Motueka, Nelson, and Rotorua.
 
An independent judging panel looked for new ideas that had practical application and could benefit grass roots conservation groups. 2016 judges included: Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Matthew Monahan (Kiwi Connect); Head of Industrial Design & Innovation at Auckland University of Technology, Shane Inder; environmental research champion, Justine Daw (General-Manager of Landcare Research); and conservation visionary and Director of Project Janszoon, Devon McLean.

In 2015, Nelson-based Richard Toft won a WWF Conservation Innovation Award for the development of Vespex®, a protein-based wasp bait. Vespex® has been credited as the most effective tool for wide-area control of wasps and a "real game-changer" in the battle against both common and German wasps.

For more details - check out today's Stuff article "Wiping out invasive wasps a 'critical issue' for New Zealand's environment" by Jonathan Carson.

With weeds in New Zealand costing billions to control and often causing irreversible damage to ecosystems, the University of Otago is bringing the war on weeds into the hi-tech space with help from a 2014 Conservation Innovation Awards grant. You may have heard the news on Radio New Zealand on 31 October.

New Zealand farmers now have a new weapon in the fight against the noxious velvetleaf weed: the camera on their iPhone.

Identifying one of the world’s worst weeds is set to become much easier with the launch of Flora Finder - Weed, a new smartphone app that can detect the aggressive velvetleaf weed that has affected many arable crops in New Zealand. Its outbreak has been associated with contamination of fodder beet seed varieties imported into the country.

The app, available for iOS devices, has more than 100 common weed species in its database. Flora Finder is an electronic field guide that uses visual recognition software to help users identify plants from photographs of their leaves and access expert advice.

Flora Finder - Weed is a joint project between the University of Otago and Kiwi app developer, MEA, with support from WWF-New Zealand and The Tindall Foundation.

According to Dr Graham Strong, commercialisation manager at Otago Innovation – the commercialisation arm of the University of Otago, “the app is designed to quickly identify the most common weeds, along with native trees and shrubs. This represents a real step-change in a battle against weeds that has existed since the advent of organised agriculture”.

Gabriel Engel, CEO of MEA, says that Flora Finder is a prime example of how apps are changing the way we deal with real-world problems: “Flora Finder makes everyday people part of the solution. With this app, we have placed the solution to one of the farming industry’s biggest pests in the hands of the people who are most directly affected.”

If the app identifies a plant as velvetleaf, users should follow the Ministry for Primary Industries’ advice

Otago Department of Botany Senior Lecturer Dr Janice Lord, says Flora Finder – Weed was developed to support famers and land managers in weed control which was a significant concern to agricultural and environmental sustainability.

“Weeds cause millions of dollars of damage to our pastures, crops, and gardens each year. Weedy plants are also a great threat to New Zealand’s parks, reserves, coasts, bush remnants, wetlands and alpine areas.

The base Flora Finder technology was developed in 2013 and is expanding to include native, naturalised and exotic plants from across the entire country.

“Even if for some reason the app can’t identify the plant, users can take a photo and through the app send it to the Botany Department and we’ll identify it for them,” says Dr Lord.

In the case of velvetleaf, this service will prove especially valuable in winter when these plants are dead.

“The leaf image recognition function would not work well in this instance, so the added ability of the app to connect the user with an expert means velvetleaf could be identified from other features such as seed heads, even if leaves are not present,” she says.

“With Flora Finder you become an instant expert in identifying NZ plants – it’s like having the world’s most famous plant experts in your pocket ready to help you when you need them.”

Flora Finder can be downloaded from iTunes.

For more Flora Finder news, visit:

2015. Fight Against Weeds goes Hi-tech

Simple and sophisticated, a clever trap design is taking lizard capture and monitoring to the next level.
 
Winning a 2015 WWF Conservation Innovation Award and $25,000 funding, Trent Bell of EcoGecko Consultants was able to take one of the product ideas in EcoGecko’s “Lure, Trap &, Retreat” programme to a prototype that can now be tested in the field.
 
Open until Friday, 14 October, WWF-New Zealand’s 2016 Conservation Innovation Awards (CIA) are designed to seek out and reward innovation for those on the frontline of conservation. Prize packages of $25,000 will be awarded to each of the three winning entries. All ideas are welcome. Entries must be submitted via wwf-nz.crowdicity.com and attract 30 votes by 5pm, 14 October.
 
CIA funding contributed to EcoGecko’s product research, technical drawings, 3D modelling, production of a prototype, and field testing. The product is now in the 3D design stage.

“Without such funding from WWF and The Tindall Foundation, an improved lizard trap may have never become reality,” Mr Bell said.
 
"This CIA financial support has enabled me to develop a new lizard pitfall trap, improving upon a method that has not changed since the 1920s.
 
“Now we are on the way with a new, secure trap that will lead to improved captures by increasing trap attractiveness and reduced trap escapability, the safe holding of animals once in the trap, the prevention of opportunistic predation of trapped animals, and other trap disturbances.
 
“This means improved lizard population monitoring information for scientific research, conservation management, and ecological restoration for these cryptic critters.
 
“This new trap design will have a wider global appeal and people in Australia, the UK, Europe and the USA have been showing a strong interest in the product.”
 
Lizards play a vital role within the New Zealand ecosystem – important as both predators and prey components and they have a function pollinating flowers and spreading seeds by consuming fruits. 
 
Mr Bell said there were more than 100 endemic lizard species currently known across the country, however, today 88% of our lizards were classified as Threatened or At Risk by the Department of Conservation.

“Not enough is known about our native lizards, despite their precarious conservation position, because of their cryptic behaviour and at times, low abundance. Lizards can be very difficult to survey or monitor.”  

Innovation can solve some of New Zealand's biggest conservation challenges and capitalise on the biggest opportunities.

Open until 14 October, WWF’s 2016 Conservation Innovation Awards (CIA) celebrate innovation and collaboration, with the aim to find and support the best innovative ideas for conservation from talented and passionate Kiwis. These awards aim to promote, motivate and reward innovation within community, iwi, researchers, and businesses. Entries need to be submitted via wwf-nz.crowdicity.com Prize packages of $25,000 will be awarded to each of the three winning entries.

This year, we have some interesting ideas coming through, ranging from a trapping programme for school children to barcoding whitebait to elevated radio tracking for kiwi. There have been 27 entries so far from Kaipara Harbour, Thames, Auckland, Paekakairki, Christchurch, Golden Bay, Wellington, Motueka, Katikati, Stewart Island, Marlborough Sounds, Te Puke, Martinborough, Motueka, Nelson, and Rotorua.

“If you have a great idea that could make a difference to the way communities can protect our special places and wildlife, enter this year’s Conservation Innovation Awards,” said Michele Frank, WWF’s Head of New Zealand Projects.

“We’re really keen to hear about any ideas, gadgets, tools or innovative projects that tackle conservation obstacles, like controlling invasive pests, improving water quality or saving native species,” Ms Frank said.

The Awards, supported by The Tindall Foundation, are driven by an innovative crowd sourcing application process – where inventors, conservationists, inquiring minds and ideas people can propose, critique and refine ideas in real time through an online ideas platform.

The Awards have met with strong, supportive feedback, including from 2014 runner up Rachel Fewster, Auckland University, who said "The Conservation Innovation Awards are a great way of sharing ideas for conservation around New Zealand and building a community of conservation innovators".

Award winners have achieved considerable success with their projects including Vespex® a wasp-killing bait, and innovative iwi-led restoration project Uawanui Project.

For inspiration, these are video stories of our CIA winners from 2014 and 2015

 

Championing conservation innovation, a New Zealand-designed pest bait has been cited as a game changer in the fight against invasive wasps.

In 2015, Nelson-based Richard Toft won a WWF Conservation Innovation Award for the development of Vespex®, a protein-based wasp bait. Vespex® has been credited as the most effective tool for wide-area control of wasps and a "real game-changer" in the battle against both common and German wasps. 

The $25,000 grant allowed Mr Toft and his team to move on from making small amounts of bait for research to commercial production, and trial systems for use by community conservation groups.

Open from 26 September to 14 October, WWF-New Zealand’s 2016 Conservation Innovation Awards (CIA) are designed to seek out and reward innovation for those on the frontline of conservation. All ideas are welcome and entries can be submitted via wwf-nz.crowdicity.com 

The arrival of Vespex® could not have come soon enough for some users, with many areas of New Zealand experiencing very high numbers of wasps in 2016.

Introduced wasps can reach extremely high populations in New Zealand, and are a major threat to native ecosystems through predation of native invertebrates and competition for natural resources, such as honeydew. They also present a significant hazard to conservation workers. Wasps cause an estimated $120 million damage a year in disruption to bee pollination and lost honey production.
 
Mr Toft, an expert in wasp ecology, said the bait had been 25 years in the making, with development continuing.
 
“The bait contains a very potent, slow-acting insecticide, and the bait is completely unattractive to bees,” he said.
 
“Wasps take the bait from bait stations to feed their larvae, so the nests are destroyed without us needing to find them.”
 
In conjunction with the Department of Conservation and BASF New Zealand, a stewardship system has been developed that has enabled Vespex® to be accessed by a wide range of users, including public and private sanctuaries, conservation groups, councils, beekeepers, foresters, farmers, tourism enterprises, recreation groups, vineyards, and orchards.
 
“People wanting to become approved users of Vespex® can access the training and registration process via the Merchento website,” Mr Toft said.
 
“Uptake was excellent in the first season, with well over 1000 approved users registered and Vespex® being sent throughout the country, from Kaitaia in the north, to Stewart Island in the south.”
 
WWF-New Zealand is now searching the country again—from research labs to garden sheds and everywhere in between—for new CIA ideas that could change the face of conservation. Prize packages of $25,000 will be awarded to each of the three winning entries. The Awards are supported by The Tindall Foundation.

He Manawa Whenua - He Oranga Tangata (A healthy environment means healthy people).

This is the founding principle of innovative iwi-led Uawanui Project which seeks to integrate conservation efforts alongside economic, social and cultural development and education. The project was a 2015 WWF Conservation Innovation Awards (CIA) winner.

Open from 26 September to 14 October, WWF-New Zealand’s 2016 CIA awards are designed to seek out and reward innovation for those on the frontline of conservation. All ideas are welcome and entries can be submitted via wwf-nz.crowdicity.com

The Uawanui Project has received overwhelming support from the wider East Coast community – including local voluntary groups and businesses, the farming and forestry industries and the education sector. The $25,000 WWF Awards grant has helped the project develop training, capacity building and communication around the wider Uawanui Project.

Chair of the Uawanui Project Governance Group, Victor Walker, said the CIA funding was “important and valuable in taking forward innovations around the Uawanui Project at Uawa Tolaga Bay”.

“A huge thanks to WWF for providing this award and to the many supporters who are making this project possible including, the Tolaga Bay Area School and Kahukuranui, the Hauiti Incorporation, Department of Conservation, Gisborne District Council and of course Te Aitanga A Hauiti and the whole Uawa Tolaga Bay community,” Mr Walker said.

Five years ago, the Tolaga Bay community asked the Allan Wilson Centre for evolutionary biology to help it clean up the area’s waterways and create a healthier, more collaborative community. Together they set up the Uawanui Sustainability Project – which aims to restore the environment, economy and wellbeing of the area.

Collaborative and innovative, the Uawanui Project has taken a whole-community approach to improving the environmental health of the Kaituna Estuary. The Hauiti Incorporation has led this estuary restoration work. The project is working to manage activities in the catchment that impact on the Uawa River, and the estuary – a “mountains-to-sea” approach. Uawanui Project’s commitment to conservation won the Protecting our biodiversity category in the 2016 Green Ribbon Awards.

Mr Walker said that the project was centred on input from marae, iwi, individuals, businesses, primary industries, landowners and schools to enable the community to manage the catchment in their everyday activities, with direct benefits to both community and environmental health.

“Our activities have included trapping pests, weed control, planting and monitoring,” he said.

One of the key mechanisms for innovation is developing individuals through integration of the Uawanui Project into the school curriculum. An Uawanui Sustainability class is provided through different levels of the Tolaga Bay Area School, providing a practical pathway to future knowledge and cultivating environmental leaders.

WWF-New Zealand is now searching the country again—from research labs to garden sheds and everywhere in between—for new CIA ideas that could change the face of conservation. Prize packages of $25,000 will be awarded to each of the three winning entries. The Awards are supported by The Tindall Foundation.

 

WWF’s conservation innovation awards open

 

The search is on for new ideas that will enhance the conservation effort in New Zealand.

With WWF’s Conservation Innovation Awards now open for a second year, the nationwide quest for the next big thing in environmental protection runs until Friday 2nd October 2015.

Kiwi innovators from all walks of life—from research labs to garden sheds and everywhere in-between—are encouraged to apply their creativity and come up with new tools, gadgets and concepts to aid the work of frontline conservation volunteers throughout the country.

Designed to help innovators fast-track their ideas to development, the awards fall into three categories—product, community project and research—and offer $25,000 prize money to each category winner.

Entry this year is via a new crowdsourcing website. To take advantage of this, entrants need to submit their ideas as soon as they can at wwf.org.nz/innovation.

Lee Barry, WWF’s Conservation Innovation Awards Coordinator, explains: “Entries are posted onto the crowdsourcing platform, registered site users then comment and feedback on the ideas. Entrants can then take these comments on board and refine their submissions.

“The power of the crowd is gaining momentum and for the Conservation Innovation Awards this collective approach means that ideas for furthering conservation work, which will ultimately benefit all New Zealanders, can be fine-tuned to their full potential.”

Entries will be judged by an independent panel which will look for entries that have practical application and clear benefit for grass roots conservation groups. Judges include Silicon Valley entrepreneur Matthew Monahan and conservation visionary Devon McLean.

Last year’s award winning ideas included: Trap Minder - a mobile phone predator alert; Cat Tracker- aresearch tool enabling owners to monitor their behaviour and impact on wildlife; Energise Otaki – a community-wide initiative to reduce the town’s emissions and promote renewable energy.

 

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