Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Knowledge management

Algae, Orakei Korako geothermal springs. Image – Craig Ross

Algae, Orakei Korako geothermal springs. Image – Craig Ross

Landcare Research has a highly skilled and scientifically productive workforce, drawn from countries all around the world.

Knowledge and professional development

Reduced Government funding and the resulting focus on ever-increasing fiscal prudence has meant a decrease in resources available for staff development and a need to be selective about where we do invest. We do, however, look for continued and creative ways around this through greater internal mentoring and coaching, and internal development programmes to build resilience in managerial expertise and leadership, and to further develop our bicultural capabilities. The pan-CRI leadership framework has been used to refresh our internal leadership development programme for Tier 1 and below. Complementary to this, a pan-CRI proposal for a joint senior leadership programme is underway. This will enable unique networking opportunities and sharing of common leadership challenges and associated solutions.

This year we launched an internal ‘writing scholarships’ scheme to encourage and support staff in submitting research findings to high quality journals to increase national and international recognition of our research staff and their work. Twelve scholarships were awarded.

This year we funded a science technician through our $5,000 study grant (plus some assistance from science team budgets) to undertake specialist external training that otherwise would be unavailable.

We are committed to continuing our support for early-career scientists on postdoctoral fellowships. This year we hosted seven.

We spent $1,524 per FTE (equivalent to 1.94% of our payroll) on direct training, which includes conferences, training courses and further postgraduate study for our staff (but excludes travel allowances).

Workforce planning

Workforce plans for key areas and talent management plans for key staff underpin retention, recruitment and talent management initiatives such as our leadership development programmes.

We manage our capability within seven science teams that report to the Chief Scientist. All science teams have capability plans in place. These science teams are the long-term collegial ‘home’ for staff where they are able to develop skills and experience, plan career paths, and develop new ideas. The Chief Scientist and Science Team Leaders service the changing capability and capacity needs of the Portfolios. Where potential gaps are identified, we address these through partnering with other research providers in New Zealand and offshore; recruiting new staff with the required expertise; and enabling our staff to develop new capabilities.

Our Science Advisory Panel recommended that we should increase our capacity and leadership in economic and social science, and further enhance our contribution to informatics research. We appointed a new Governance and Policy Science Team Leader and will support a visiting scientist from the UK to lead further development of our economic and social research. We also appointed four new staff with specialist skills in resource economics and Māori science, four with spatial/modelling skills in soil science, and two with modelling expertise in ecological science.

Turnover & recruitment

For the year ending 30 June: 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Total staff (FTEs) in Landcare Research 383 377 379 356 329 315
In science teams 269 263 261 250 232 224
With post-graduate qualifications (HC) 246 210 210 195 180 1601
In science support 45 43 45 44 42 41
In general support 69 71 73 62 55 50
Enviro-Mark Solutions (subsidiary) staff (FTEs) - - - 19 12 222
Women (% science team staff) 31.2% 36.1% 37.6% 38.4% 32.8% 38%
Women recruited (% science team staff recruited) 42.9% 38.1% 62.5% 48% 53.8% 56%
Māori science staff (HC) 8 10 9 8 8 9
1 In addition, 24 support staff have post-graduate qualifications. Metrics for previous years have included Honours and Post Graduate Diplomas as post-graduate qualifications.
2 Includes Enviro-Mark which merged with carboNZero Holdings subsidiary to form the new company EnviroMark Solutions on 1 July 2013

The decrease in staff numbers over the last two years has been largely driven by reduced revenue from stakeholder clients. While we continued to investing key growth areas, we reduced capacity in other key areas of science where future opportunities remain more static. Turnover for key senior scientists was 6.7% and 8.4% across all science. Turnover for science support was 4.4%; and for general support 16.4%, which reflects a deliberate reduction of capacity in some areas and a drive for increased efficiency in support services. Turnover includes nine staff took voluntary or mandatory redundancy at the end of 2012/13 plus another eight staff redundancies occurred in early 2013/14. While redundancies are regrettable and difficult for the staff, we are pleased that four of the affected scientists have stayed with us in a voluntary capacity as Research Associates.

We continue to recruit and build capacity in areas of science growth, including resource economics and Māori-related science. Of the 18 scientists recruited during the year, eight came from overseas. Eight of the newly recruited scientists were female.

Just under two–thirds of our total staff self-identify as New Zealanders. The other third represent a very wide range of nationalities, reflecting the global nature of science. Staff from overseas contribute significantly to establishing links with research institutes and universities in their home countries.

Encouraging new scientists

We continue to provide opportunities for postdoctoral researchers, attracting early–career scientists from many parts of the world; seven postdoctoral researchers were on staff in 2013/14. All our larger sites are on or close to university campuses and we have a number of joint appointments with five New Zealand universities. We are strengthening our close relationship with Lincoln University as we contribute to the development of a campus plan and a collaborative research programme with the university and other partners in the Lincoln Hub. This facilitates research excellence and relevance, and encourages opportunities for our staff to co-supervise postgraduate students and present invited lectures.

We have increased the number of part-time appointments (to five) of our high performing scientists in our Joint Graduate School with the University of Auckland to engage in collaborative projects and to encourage many more PhD students into our research programmes.

For year ended 30 June: 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
NZ university staff in our research projects 48 38 41 42 441
Our staff in university projects 18 13 13 7 92
Postgraduates being supervised by our staff 98 71 102 483 883
Staff paid to lecture in university courses 14 12 7 10 84
University positions held by staff 41 36 39 29 235
1 44 staff and postgrad students from 8 universities collaborating in 32 of our research projects
2 9  of our staff in 7 programmes at 5 universities
3 63 PhD and 27 MSc (does not include overseas students supervised by overseas research associates). The significant drop in 2013 was due to completion of a large number of theses
4 8 staff delivered 15 sets of paid lectures; another 20 staff provided 25 sets of guest lectures
5 18 staff hold 23 honorary positions (professorships, lectureships, fellowships) in New Zealand and overseas universities

We support two First Foundation Scholars: one is now in his third year studying Forestry at the University of Canterbury and achieving great results; the other is in his first year at the University of Canterbury.. The First Foundation Scholarships targets talented students in lower-decile secondary schools nationally, and continue through to the end of the student’s first three years at university.

Training for good workplace practices

In most years, we hold a ‘field forum’ focusing on H&S and other issues relevant to staff who work in the field. Our typical outdoor work environments can be very challenging, with field staff often working in rugged remote terrain and through all weather. The experience, skills and good judgment of field staff are vital to safety.

Field Forums typically cover issues such as:

  • Emergency responses
  • Field Intentions, communications
  • Personal Locator Beacon activation and SAR response
  • Wasps stings and dealing with anaphylactic reactions
  • Lightning strikes
  • Wildfire responses
  • New Driving Policy and Procedure - Vehicle crash, use of chains
  • Firearms - Updated H&S Procedure
  • Use of Vertebrate Toxic Agents (VTAs) in the field
  • Posture and fitness for injury prevention.

In addition a number of staff completed Comprehensive First Aid, First Aid Refreshers or Field First Aid training this year.

During the year, 156 tests were completed across 14 induction and refresher courses to demonstrate understanding of, and compliance with, the access requirements to biosecurity transitional and containment facilities. Also, 19 Emergency Wardens based at four main sites passed their newly-developed Kiosk Warden refresher tests.

We continue to provide a range of IT training courses that are delivered to small groups in relaxed, hands–on tutorials. Courses are tailored to the needs of all Landcare Research staff, and are repeated a regular intervals throughout the year to maintain high skill levels and efficient use of computing resources.

Professional contribution & networks

Many of our staff are recognised nationally and internationally for their expertise and they contribute to professional networks in a variety of ways.

Science Excellence (Data include our Research Associates but exclude staff in any collaborating or subcontracted organisation)

For the year ended 30 June: 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Professional recognition and awards for staff 24 24 21 15 15 191
Keynote or plenary addresses (costs fully or partly covered) 24 9 11 8 11 11
Number of editorial positions 89 106 96 82 85 812
Number of positions in professional societies 65 55 59 56 54 573
Number of roles on advisory panels and groups 109 127 133 143 145 1294
Number of directorships 22 24 17 17 14 165
Number of peer-reviewed scientific papers 254 271 243 241 274 2506
% of papers in top 25 journals relevant to the scope of our research NA NA NA 30% 31.6% 19.6%7
Average number of citations for all papers over a rolling 8-year period NA NA NA 10.8 9.79 9.69

1 Excludes travel grants
2 38 staff hold 81 positions on the editorial boards of scientific journals; 64 of these are international and include the mega journal Zootaxa, founded by one of our staff
3 57 staff hold 66 positions in professional societies (including 9 Fellows); 24 of these positions are international
4 57 staff hold 129 positions on advisory boards, technical groups and review panels; 44 of these are international
5 10 staff hold 16 directorships or board memberships; 3 of these are international
6 Refers to peer-reviewed journals only; includes early online view/in press publications. Excludes accepted but not yet published papers. Also excludes 36 books and book chapters, and 131 non-refereed papers, which we report as ‘technical publications’
7 Researchers chose other journals that are suited to the particular research being published. Given the unusually high diversity of our research disciplines, a static pool of the same 25 journals each year is not adequate to represent our research. MBIE is discontinuing this core indicator.