Manaaki Whenua's purpose is to drive innovation in New Zealand's management of terrestrial biodiversity and land resources in order to both protect and enhance the terrestrial environment and grow New Zealand's prosperity.
Our Core Purpose is to drive innovation
Creating pest-free sanctuaries for New Zealand
The control of introduced mammal pests for biodiversity restoration and other objectives in New Zealand is nationally critical work. One part of this work involves ‘sanctuaries’: sites implementing multi-species pest mammal control for biodiversity and wider ecosystem recovery objectives with substantial community involvement. Many of these sanctuaries are surrounded by pest-proof fencing.
National collections – not just a nice-to-have
The importance of Manaaki Whenua’s nationally significant collections of biota came into sharp focus this year when we worked with DoC, Auckland Zoo, and others on the challenging recent deaths of kākāpō chicks. The chicks had the respiratory disease aspergillosis, caused by different species of the mould fungus Aspergillus.
Restoration of cultural harvest at Te Waihora
During the year researchers have worked collaboratively with Ngāi Tahu to investigate customary management reforms, with a focus on wetlands, but more specifically black swan (Kakīnui) populations across the South Island.
Progress towards Predator-Free New Zealand
MWLR has conducted pest management research for decades, but its landscape-scale predator control research really began in Hawke’s Bay in 2014, working with the Poutiri Ao ō Tāne project, and later the Cape to City project, led by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and DoC with mana whenua and community groups. These projects led the charge, and others have since emerged under the more ambitious Predator Free programme, a $28 million package announced by the Government in 2016 to eradicate rats, possums and stoats from the mainland by 2050.
Biocontrol approved for invasive horehound weed
Horehound is not palatable to stock, and taints the meat of animals that are forced to graze on it. The weed displaces preferred forage plants, reducing pasture productivity. Horehound also produces hooked burrs (seed capsules) that stick to the wool of sheep, and this downgrades the quality of the fleece. It is now recognised as one of the worst weeds in lucerne crops. Negative economic impacts to farmers may be as high as $29−39 million annually.
A toolbox of novel technologies for predator control
Affordable monitoring and control techniques for pest predators are essential to the future success of Predator Free NZ, and for wildlife management in general. Researchers at Manaaki Whenua are currently working on a wide range of projects to extend the tools available for pest control.
Science to manage soil erosion
New Zealand is losing 192 million tonnes of soil each year due to erosion – the equivalent of more than 7 million dump-truck loads. According to MfE’s Environment Aotearoa 2019 report, almost half (44%) of this loss is from pastoral land. This erosion has been accelerated by the loss of native vegetation but is primarily caused by significant weather events, where heavy rain causes slips, slumps and stream-bank collapse that send massive amounts of fertile soil and sediment into waterways, streams and rivers.
Smarter remote sensing for effective land management
Satellite photography has long been a useful tool in land management, enabling landscape comparisons over time that show the large-scale effects of historical land-use decisions. Modern remote-sensing techniques use all parts of the light spectrum and are very high resolution, and the data sets are updated every 5 days as satellites pass overhead. However, perfectly cloudless skies are rare, and even wisps of high cloud can distort and hide important details on an image.
Maximising value from irrigation
Major technical advances in irrigation systems over the past two decades have given farmers and growers the ability to apply specific amounts of water to a paddock or block of land. However, different types of soil and pieces of land within a block or paddock require different amounts of water, and too much water can easily be applied, causing water wastage, nutrient loss and leaching.
The Honey Landscape
The mānuka honey industry is booming – but how many hives can the landscape sustain? Scientists and Māori agribusiness have teamed up to learn more about mānuka DNA variation, beehive stocking rates, and honey bee food resources in a 5-year project that sets out to answer these questions and best maximise this opportunity.
Measuring and managing soil carbon – fundamental field science for New Zealand
The carbon contained within soils is critical for soil health and ecosystem functions, such as the maintenance of soil structural stability, root growth, air/water movement, and nutrient cycling. It plays an important part in the control of rainwater run-off and soil erosion, and is a vital food source for soil biota. Soils with higher carbon are generally more resilient to climatic extremes of intense rainfall and drought.
The Lake Snow Toolbox: environmental monitoring of slime in our iconic lakes
Our researchers have developed a cost-effective, robust, laser-based Raman spectroscope that can be used in the field. It sends a laser beam into a water sample to identify instantly whether or not lake snow is present. The work builds on previous research done at Manaaki Whenua to extract DNA from the alga for genome sequencing and species identification, enabling us to identify the organism accurately.
New from Enviro-Mark Solutions – on-farm carbon footprinting for certification
Enviro-Mark Solutions, in partnership with Beef + Lamb, Dairy NZ, AsureQuality and Overseer Ltd, is developing an online carbon footprinting tool that will enable farmers to calculate their farm’s carbon emissions, including emissions that occur beyond the farm gate.
KiwiNet – successful innovation funding for some of our young scientists
The Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) is a New Zealand network of public research organisations, working together to transform scientific discoveries into marketable products and services. KiwiNet acts as a channel for collaboration, empowering people by helping them to access the tools, connections, investment, and support they need to commercialise research