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$75,000 awarded to new ideas for nature

Posted by Lee Barry Nov 4, 2015

The Kiwi innovators behind a wasp-killing bait, an Iwi-led restoration project and a new-generation native lizard monitoring system will each be awarded a $25,000 grant to recognise their contribution to innovation in conservation.

The three winners, from Nelson, Tolaga Bay and Wellington will be congratulated by TV3 Presenter, Samantha Hayes, and ‘the Bugman’ Ruud Kleinpaste at an event in Wellington tonight (Thurs) marking Conservation Week. The Conservation Innovation Awards are a WWF initiative which seek to unearth new ideas to boost conservation action in New Zealand.

The winning ideas are:

Lure, Trap & Retreat! – out-of-date 1960s ‘bucket’ traps are the current standard for monitoring more than 100 species of endemic New Zealand lizards. The idea of a new-style trap, submitted by Wellington-based EcoGecko Consultants, who describe lizards as the ‘forgotten fauna’, will replace these unreliable tools and help keep track of these ecologically important reptiles.

The Uawanui Project –this Iwi-led community project from the East Cape is based on the principle that a healthy environment means healthy people. With a long-term commitment to ensuring conservation becomes part of everyday life, the Te-Aitanga-A-Hauiti, Uawa Tolaga Bay Community and Allan Wilson Centre project seeks to integrate environmental efforts with economic, social and cultural development and education in the Uawa Tolaga Bay area.  

Vespex Wasp Bait – invasive wasps cause around $60 million worth of damage to the New Zealand environment every year, and are responsible for stealing food from native species and killing newly hatched birds. The Vespex wasp bait is a new protein-based bait that wasps carry back to their own nests – and which, importantly, is unattractive to bees. The brain-child of Richard Toft of Entecol Ltd, it has been successfully trialled in conjunction with the Department of Conservation and has environmental safety and good stewardship at the heart of its development.

WWF’s Michele Frank, who oversees community conservation projects for WWF nationwide, says the entries submitted to this year’s awards were truly inspirational.

“These awards are an exciting collaboration between people who share a passion for 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,” says Michele.

“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.”

The finalists in the awards were judged by an independent panel comprised ofMatthew Monahan, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and co-founder of Kiwi Connect, Devon McLean director of Project Janszoon, Justine Daw, general manager of partnerships at Landcare Research, and Shane Inder, programme leader of Industrial Design at AUT.

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

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