Predator Free New Zealand: the Facebook frontier
One of the biggest challenges to make Aotearoa pest free by 2050 may not be fences or fancy lures …but Facebook. If this ambitious “moon landing”mission is to succeed we need to get Kiwis onboard; we need engagement best practice as much as trapping best practice.
1. The idea: create a digital comms tool-kit for NZ community groups to maximise the opportunity provided by social media: inspire, bond and activate.
Based on the comms recipe of the Polhill Project – be neighbourly with our natives – the tool-kit will provide an online launch pad for other community conservation groups.
2. Polhill (www.polhill.org.nz) is a successful 21st Century conservation community: trapping critters, fostering wildlife and connected via social media. In a year a dozen trappers have grown to a digital army of 400+ Polhill Protectors. Polhill stories have gone viral and made national news. Most importantly they’ve created a group of kaitiaki, who are passionately engaged in caring for the birds'n'bush.
What conservation problem are you trying to solve?
David Attenborough: “No one will protect what they don't care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced”.
In 2016 nature is perceived as elsewhere (zoos, national parks), and conservation as aging and monocultural. We urgently need to activate affinity with our wild namesakes (Tui music awards, Weta FX, Kiwis league, Kiwibank) in ways relevant to our urban, connected lives: conservation needs to face up to Facebook.
Yet conservation outreach has not moved far beyond print.
How are you going to solve this conservation problem?
Power up community groups by providing a comms tool-kit:
- A comms tikanga focusing on inspiration and action (fun, inclusiveness, partnership)
- A digital asset ‘must have’ list (images, copy)
- Strategies for making the most of Facebook, Instagram, Neighbourly, Twitter, Naturewatch (hashtags, posting pro tips etc)
- Suggested website and map templates using free off-the-shelf software
- A guide to smart smartphone use
- A suite of NZ nature-specific emojis, filters and stickers
The Polhill Facebook group has shown the power of social media to generate conservation outcomes. Spurred by the story of the first saddleback to nest in the wild on the mainland in a century, the Polhill digital community has bolstered field work, validated volunteer mahi to stakeholders, and inspired trapping in adjacent suburbs. WCC and WWF invited Polhill to present to other groups on how to *do* digital, and DoC used it as a community engagement exemplar for the launch of Predator Free 2050.
What makes your idea new and unique?
Polhill is a front-running 21st Century conservation community: posts of rats win likes, and kaka photos provide tautoko (endorsement) in response. Online korero has shifted the middle ground on tricky topics e.g. roaming pets, and generated innovation in the field e.g. biking and running-friendly trap lines, gamification for Polhill juniors. It’s a platform where park patrons and local businesses like Garage Project and Goodnature can all celebrate their wild backyard, and it’s free!
Who will use your idea, and how will they benefit?
The Polhill engagement recipe is not rocket science, it's social (media) science. Our sincere hope that it will not be unique long as the engagement lessons and benefits of digital community building are embraced by more volunteer community conservation groups throughout NZ.
Conservation community groups cannot afford to fund development and building of bespoke digital/comms assets: this is largely a human resource cost. We will provide a digital tool-kit that will be replicable and accessible.
What tasks or activities do you need investment for? How would you spend a $25,000 grant?
The tool-kit will distill comms best practice via:
1. Development: some of Wellington's top digital developers and entrepreneurs are also Polhill trappers, with Trademe, Goodnature, Weta Digital and Dragonfly Data Science among credits; they are skilled in making cost efficient decisions about digital development and passionate about going native; we will tap this resource to empower community conservation. $10,000
2. Distribution: the kit will be distributed in partnership with Predator Free New Zealand Trust: it will be hosted on their website and promoted on YouTube and social media channeles via webinars and ‘how to’ videos. $8,000
CHECK OUT the below pdf for a taste of Polhill comms!
Are you a New Zealand citizen or resident?
List five other ideas posted in the challenge that excite you. Why?
Wasp Wipeout: a range of stakeholders alligned to deal to a pest; and clear consideration given to engaging community across platforms.
Lizard Tales: mokomoko could be ambassador species to communicate that biodiversity is not just for the birds.
Nothing is more ... : eco-jurisprudence is a oft-neglected tool in the conservation kit.
Immersive Conservation: to go native NZ digital natives need to be engaged on their own terms: our future conservationists will only protect what they care about.
Pollinator Wall: attention-grabbing way of starting community conversations about bee-ing kaitiaki.
How could you improve your idea?
Polhill has been effective because the online efforts have been symbiotic with offline engagement (community meetings/hui, rat catch posts earning likes etc). We are an urban group of volunteers encompassing juniors, students, office workers, mountain bikers, grannies (and mountain biking grannies!). This balance will be different in different communities, and we would look to engage widely to inform the development of the comms tool-kit. To do so we will leverage our partnership with Predator Free NZ and their wide reach.
Kiwis are living their lives increasingly online and via social media (amidst a daily deluge of often heavily branded global produce), and it is imperitive that we engage with this digital reality strategically if we are to achieve PFNZ 2050. A generation ago rats and possums were killed in traps; we can't neglect likes, posts, Pokemon and emojis amongst the necessary tools available to us to look after our toanga native wildlife.
We welcome a relationship with WWF (and partners) to determine the most effective composition and deployment of the tool-kit.