WWF's Conservation Innovation Awards

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Gathering votes

Rooftop biodiversity hotspots

Create rooftop biodiversity hotspots in urban environments around New Zealand in order to bridge the gap between cities and nature.

City rooftops would be a particularly good choice for the hotspots as they are a naturally isolated areas and so they can be kept predator free with the right management.

And then these protected rooftops can be used to create habitats for our native species that will provide islands of refuge for them in urban environments.

What conservation problem are you trying to solve?

Bridging the gap between cities and nature will allow communities to engage in conservation, and they will be able to see the effects of their conservation efforts on a daily basis. And the creation of hotspots in the city will be a step towards combatting the habitat loss due to the creation of urban environments.

How are you going to solve this conservation problem?

The first step would be indentifying candidate species that are charismatic and relatively low risk from a conservation stand point, and identify candidate hotspot locations.

The next step would be to create hotspots that cater to the needs of the candidate species, and encourage the species to extend their range into the cities. This would be done by creating rooftop habitats with plants species like flax and kowhai, and bird feeders that attract our native birds, and taking measures to ensure that the rooftops stay predator free.

Then the sucess of the project could be measured both in terms of its conservation potential and community engagement, by surveying the health of the hotspot ecosystems and the community response. And if successful, the hotspots could installed in cities throughout New Zealand.

What makes your idea new and unique?

Cities are generally seen as barriers to conservation as expansion of urban areas leads to habitat destruction, but by installing hotspots in our cities we can provide predator free environments to our native species and make our cities strongholds of conservation.

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

Hotspots would benefit people who use our cities on a regular basis by increasing their connection to nature, reducing air pollution, controlling insect populations, and providing competition to feral pigeons. Also hotspots would make our cities unique destinations where tourists can get a taste of our incredible wildlife before even leaving the city. And the hotspots would be a step in the right direction towards making our cities greener and more carbon neutral.

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

The grant would be used to source the materials and fund scholarships for students to build, maintain, and monitor the hotspots. This would be a great way to engage students in conservation, offer experience in the field alongside their studies, and create future conservation ambassadors.

Are you a New Zealand citizen or resident?


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

  • Compost and catch, spreading the predator free movement, as it's a really unique predator control method
  • Restoring the oceans abundance using seawater electrolysis - a marine conservation initiative, as it would be great to create habitats inside our marine reserves
  • Investigating the weird, wonderful and sometime freaky biodiversity of the Waikato: Engaging community, iwi, and schools in biodiversity science, as it's a great way to engage the community with science
  • The Baleen Filter - Preventing plastic microfibres from entering our oceans, as it's important to prevent plastic microfibres from damaging our marine ecosystems
  • Hanging Gardens of New Zealand - The new wonder of the modern world, as it's a great way to bring nature in our cities

How could you improve your idea?

By doing more research into possible canditate species and identifying their habitat requirements, and finding locations that can structurally support the habitats.

edited on Nov 1, 2017 by Chris Fink

Michael Fielding Oct 15, 2017

Super idea. I love green roofs, I think they should be mandatory on all new buildings, commercial, residential and industrial. And what a great insight, that they're naturally isolated - or easily isolated, from predators, so would make great refuges for native birds and insects.


Chris Fink Oct 15, 2017

Hi Michael, thanks for the support! I agree that it'd be great to see all new buildings with green roofs providing habitats for our native wildlife!


Yile Ying Oct 15, 2017

hope this comes true soon! :)


Chris Fink Oct 15, 2017

Thanks Yile!


Brent Beaven Oct 15, 2017

Hi. The thinking is great and I have seen various versions of urban gardens and rooftop greening over the years. What makes your one different? How would you manage the engineering requirements to support the extra weight?
The hanging gardens entry seems to be solving this in a slightly different way - have you checked them out?
Cheers, Brent


Chris Fink Oct 15, 2017

Hi Brent,

Thanks for questions, I think the hanging gardens project is a great concept! This would be different as it would be specifically focussed on providing habitats on rooftops for our native wildlife in the use of plants like flax and kowhai, bird feeders, and the use of pest management.

And the engineering requirements is a very good point! So it would be important to select candidate buildings that have enough weight loading capacity to deal with the increased loads of the habitats.




Yasmin Yumul Oct 15, 2017



Chris Fink Oct 15, 2017

Thanks Yasmin!


Becky Wilson Oct 15, 2017

The idea has been progressed to the next milestone