WWF's Conservation Innovation Awards


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Planting the seed - interview with submitter Ines Schoenberger

Posted by Lee Barry Sep 17, 2015

An expert in the flora of Germany is one of the leading submitters to the 2015 Conservation Innovation Awards. Ines Schoenberger has worked around the world cataloguing, preserving and identifying botanical samples and making them available for research and public interest.

She is currently the collection manager of the Allan Herbarium at Landcare Research in Christchurch, and her idea “Getting to know the enemy before you can fight it” proposes to digitise the herbarium’s collection to improve access to information on New Zealand weeds and how they are spread.

Ines has a PhD in New Zealand plant identification, and says, “Despite attempts to keep new weeds out of New Zealand, some species still find their way into the country the exact way species arrived decades ago. Many weeds occurred first around ports where they were brought in on ballast of ships. Ports still seem to be a portal for weeds  - for example a new weedChilean rice grass was discovered in Camp Bay in Lyttelton Harbour on Banks Peninsula discovered in 2011. This shows that more vigorous controls should be put in place and people living near ports should keep an eye out for new plant species popping up!”

 In her post, Ines says her idea to give everyone access to a huge catalogue of images and data about existing and new weeds  means that the public, biosecurity officers, farmers, horticulturists and ecologists will be able to determine when our already well-known weeds were first recorded, and will also be made aware of new potential weeds.

“Community initiatives, such as The Weedbusters, might use this information to monitor likely areas for high-priority weeds, and eradicate new weed arrivals earlier than otherwise might be the case,” she writes.

We asked Ines about her experience of the Awards so far:

WWF: How did you hear about the Conservation Innovation Awards?

Ines: My manager at Landcare Research told me about it – she had been contacted by WWF to see if our staff had any good ideas to put up. Mine was actually one of the first ideas posted – so I helped to test the system a little bit too!

WWF: This online open application process is new for everyone. How have you found it?

Ines: The entire experience with the Crowdicity site so far has been very exciting and motivating. I have never done anything like that before and I don’t use social media or blogs or anything, but the Crowdicity site and being a part of it, being challenged by questions, being able to see other ideas and their progress is real fun! 

WWF: Have you experienced any problems using the site?

Ines:  It all worked very well and is very interactive. I received emails at each milestone with clear instructions. I have also received notification whenever somebody voted for me or when someone commented.

WWF: You are now up to the last Milestone which involves refining your idea. Are you clear on what to do next?

Ines: I do have access to the additional questions and will fill them in asap, I think I know what to do next!

 Read Ines' idea here




This post was edited on Sep 23, 2016 by Michelle Eggleton

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