WWF's Conservation Innovation Awards

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The KOTAHI project

The KOTAHI (Keeping Our Total Aquatic Heritage Intact, or Maori for ‘be united’) project is an initiative focused on driving meaningful change in water quality and aquatic habitat conservation policies across New Zealand grounded in robust scientific data backed by a unified public voice.

To create change that will produce tangible improvements for people, flora and fauna that are dependent on a healthy water resource requires proven scientific results to be backed with public support and want for change. The ‘source to sink’ effect of water quality degradation is what the KOTAHI project is driven to abate. This covers disclosing the current negative impacts poor water quality is having on cultural, economic and recreational activities from streams, rivers and lakes to estuaries and the coast. Followed by providing solutions to these issues.

The KOTAHI project is not an attempt at creating a new approach to water quality management, but is an initiative aimed at introducing protocols and policy that have been used effectively on large scales with proven positive results abroad. Beginning with small pilot studies, the KOTAHI project can portray the effectiveness of the proposed water quality management approaches. Outputs from these studies will be the best chance the people of New Zealand will have at convincing policy makers to implement the change that is needed to save their water resource and aquatic ecosystems. 

What conservation problem are you trying to solve?

The KOTAHI project aims to halt the degradation of New Zealand’s water resource and aquatic habitats. The KOTAHI project can do this by setting an example of good water quality management strategies. Outputs from such pilot studies could advise and significantly improve water quality management policy, accelerate implementation rates, and the subsequent environmental improvements. The KOTAHI project will strive to increase public awareness of the causes of water quality degradation across New Zealand, and to make people aware of the available solutions. The combination of robust scientific results backed by a unified public voice of support for the KOTHAI project plan will be a recipe for success in this battle against continued water quality degradation.

How are you going to solve this conservation problem?

The scientific approach to water quality management that the KOTAHI project adopts is the Ecosystem Based Approach (EBA). This involves studying the floral and faunal biology in aquatic ecosystems and letting them show us how they are being impacted by our wastewater and agricultural run-offs. By using measures of biodiversity and taking into account the resilience of certain flora and fauna to polluted conditions into account, we can gain insight into the effect of poor water quality on the beings that are the fundamental structures of the ecosystems on which we depend. It is possible to use the information gathered from such EBA monitoring exercises to assess an ecosystem's ability to provide economic, cultural and recreational services for human users. Transposing scientific data into information that is usable across public and political spheres will be key to gaining public support for the KOTAHI projects proposed solutions and to ultimately influence government policy.  

What makes your idea new and unique?

A ‘source to sink’ EBA to water quality management program has never been implemented in New Zealand. The KOTAHI project will introduce water quality management paradigms from large scale, successful water quality management frameworks developed in European legislation into the initial pilot study areas. This will not be an exercise in reinventing the wheel, this will be an exercise in showing how these methods are transferable into New Zealand water quality management with the added advantage of having seventeen years of hindsight from the lessons learned in the multitude of European case studies.

Who will use your idea, and how will they benefit?

The idea behind the KOTAHI project is that every living being has the right to clean water and healthy aquatic ecosystems on which so many cultural, economic and recreational activities depend. Everybody can benefit from the paradigms inherent in the KOTAHI project approach to water quality management. The initial beneficiaries will be the people and ecosystems in which the initial KOTAHI project pilot studies take place. 

What tasks or activities do you need investment for? How would you spend a $25,000 grant?

Investment is needed to fund public consultations and initiate online forums and discussions by injecting funds into web development. Public consultations will be critical for gaining the support of community lead environmental and sustainability initiatives and Iwi groups in the areas identified for initial pilot studies. Some funds will be allocated for attracting investment from NGOs, funding bodies, regional and central government by providing expenses for a symposium outlining the aims and potential of the KOTAHI project. 

Are you a New Zealand citizen or resident?

YES

I have read and agree to the Crowdicity Terms of Use, the Conservation Innovation Awards 2017 Supplemental Terms and Conditions, and the Crowdicity Privacy Policy

YES

List five other ideas posted in the challenge that excite you. Why?

SWIMMING with E-COLI: Another significant advance in real-time water quality assessment. This product has the potential to make swimming safer for everyone in the waterways of NZ.


Earthcare Enterprise Academies: I like how the students are given the autonomy to choose what issues are most pertinent to them as individuals or groups, and then given the resources and opportunity to develop their own solutions.


The Urban Rat Project: This is a fun, innovative form of community engagement on a large scale. I find the idea of using everyday technology to deploy this concept very interesting, particularly the way in which it is angled at playing to typical behavioural responses of the average user.


STREAMED – A community-based online water clarity monitoring tool: A project such as STREAMED is an interesting mix of grass roots community collaboration and learning using technology and resources that are understood and used every day by the average person.


 


Guardians of Zealandia: The underlying premise of this idea is, in my opinion, a very effective form of scientific outreach. Scientific outreach comes in many guises, and I think the more tangible a biodiversity exposition, the better. Seeing as though it is not possible to bring physical habitats to prospective inspired audiences, 360 video is the next best thing. 

How could you improve your idea?

By broadening communication networks and reaching out to other initiatives with similar goals.

 

By placing more focus on finding local products and people that can provide technical expertise which can be incorporated into the adaptive monitoring strategies. 

edited on Oct 13, 2017 by Jack O'Carroll

Hannah Smith 10 months ago

Wonderful concept. Why isn't this being done already!!

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Jack O'Carroll 10 months ago

Thank you very much Hannah! I really appreciate the support. It's a simple but effective concept and with any luck we will be able to prove it soon. Feel free to ask to ask questions if any spring to mind. All the best, Jack.

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Sean Gilligan 10 months ago

Best of luck bud!

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Jack O'Carroll 10 months ago

Thanks for the support!!!

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Meghann Scully 10 months ago

Good Luck Jack

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Jack O'Carroll 10 months ago

Thanks for the support!!!

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Ohara 10 months ago

Sounds great, best of luck!

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Jack O'Carroll 10 months ago

Thanks for the support!!!

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Aoife O'Shea 10 months ago

Fantastic! The very best of luck to you

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Jack O'Carroll 10 months ago

Thanks for the support!!!

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Pauric Grant 10 months ago

hope it works bud!

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Jack O'Carroll 10 months ago

Thanks for the support!!!

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Liddy 10 months ago

Good luck!

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Jack O'Carroll 10 months ago

Thanks for the support!!!

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Eva Nicholson 10 months ago

Great idea.... Best of luck with it!

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Jack O'Carroll 10 months ago

Thanks for the support!!!

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Elaine O'Carroll 10 months ago

Best of Luck. Great idea. Deserves support.

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Jack O'Carroll 10 months ago

Thanks for the support!!!

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Lisa Halpin 10 months ago

Good luck Jack!

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Jack O'Carroll 10 months ago

Thanks for the support!!!

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Rachel Kelly 10 months ago

Best of luck with this Jack! :)

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Jack O'Carroll 10 months ago

Thanks for the support!!!

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Philip Powell 10 months ago

Great idea!

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Jack O'Carroll 10 months ago

Thanks for the support!!!

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Liam Fullbrook 10 months ago

Great idea, good luck with it Jack!!

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Jack O'Carroll 10 months ago

Thanks for the support!!!

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robert kennedy 10 months ago

Awesome idea and well described. Best of Luck Jack

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Jack O'Carroll 10 months ago

Thanks for the support!!!

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Stephen Trainor 10 months ago

Fantastic use of knowledge sharing. Looking forward to seeing how this can progress in NZ.

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Jack O'Carroll 10 months ago

Thanks for the support!!!

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Joanne Jackson 10 months ago

What management paradigms in the European legislation do you think are applicable to New Zealand?

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Jack O'Carroll 10 months ago

Hi Joanne, thanks for your question. The EU has a track record of introducing conservation legislation since the 70's ie, the Habitats and Birds directives, the Nitrates Directive, the Water Framework Directive etc. The most effective piece of water management and ecosystem conservation legislature is the Water Framework Directive (WFD) a follow-on from its predecessor the Nitrates Directive. The aims of the WFD are to maintain or improve where necessary, the ecological status of waterbodies in an identified catchment area, covering inland ground and surface waters to estuaries and coastal water bodies. This is achieved by carrying out assessments of putatively altered or polluted catchment areas and replicating the same survey in reference, ‘normal’ or desirable conditions. This is done by using water quality metrics and key cohorts of flora and fauna within the ecosystem to make the comparison. These monitoring surveys are carried out in annual and biannual cycles, the results of which are used to inform on the effects of pollutant input upstream on the receiving environment. The results are then also used to inform on the level of success of remedial management action that has been put in place to remove pollutant input upstream.
That is it in a nutshell. The beauty is there is so much room for using these pre-existing ideas and taking them further by incorporating innovative sampling and survey techniques such as those developed by you guys at WAI NZ! There is no set answer to solving the problem we are battling, but collaboration and discussion on the best plan of action is the way forward I think. Thanks again for the question and please don’t hesitate to quiz me further.
All the best,
Jack

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Joanne Jackson 10 months ago

Thanks for your comprehensive reply Jack. Adaption is key. We could definitely assist with the RiverWatch water tester. Are you aware of similar source to sink projects that iwi are engaged in Aotearoa?

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Michele Frank 10 months ago

The idea has been progressed to the next milestone

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